Tag Archives: spring

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion

Flickr: cygnus921

Dandelion is a common weed that is usually considered by non-weed enthusiasts to be a quite a nuisance. It grows wild everywhere, and this little weed with it’s cute little yellow flowers packs a powerful punch medicinally.

A Little History

Dandelions have been around for about 30 million years. Humans have been eating them as food and using them as medicine for as long as there has been recorded history. They arrived in North America when the Mayflower arrived in 1620. European immigrants used dandelions as part of their regular diet, and brought them over to began to cultivate them in North America. Now they grow profusely.

 

Edible Parts

All parts of the dandelion are edible.

The leaves are more nutritious than any other green you can buy. They are higher in beta-carotene than carrots. And higher in iron and calcium than spinach.

Dandelion greens can be used in salads or steamed. However, if this isn’t desirable to you, you can also juice them. It’s also possible to purchase dandelion green liquid extracts online or in dandelion-greensstores that can be added to water or juice.

The dandelion flower adds color, texture, and a bittersweet flavor to salads. You can saute them or steam them with other vegetables. You could make dandelion wine with the flowers and some people even make dandelion flower pickles, using vinegar and spices.

Dandelion root can be eaten all year with it’s best flavor from fall to early spring. Use it in soups as a cooked vegetable. The roots can also be used to make dandelion coffee.

Medicinal Uses

When gathered in early spring, the leaves and roots can be used as a spring tonic and to stimulate digestion and vitality after a long winter.

Dandelion greens also have been used as a diuretic, an agent that promotes the loss of water from the body through urination. Their diuretic effect can make dandelion greens helpful in lowering blood pressure and relieving premenstrual fluid retention.

Dandelion RootDandelion roots contain inulin and levulin, starchlike substances that may help balance blood sugar, as well as a bitter substance (taraxacin) that stimulates digestion. The very presence of a bitter taste in the mouth promotes the flow of bile from the liver and gallbladder, as well as hydrochloric acid from the stomach.

The leaves are full of vitamins including B1, B2, B6, C, E, and K. Also containing minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and zinc.

The nutrients in dandelion greens may help reduce the risk of cancer, multiple sclerosis, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and stroke. Dandelion contains anti-inflammatory properties which may provide benefit to those with asthma and other inflammatory diseases.

Remember: Check with a qualified naturopathic doctor or other health professional before eating any wild plant.

Chicory (cichoium intybus)

Chicory (cichoium intybus)

Chicory Flower

Flickr: adavey

Early in the season, chicory grows as a rosette of  irregularly-toothed basil leaves. These leaves look similar to dandelion leaves and can grow up to six inches in length, growing low to the ground. Then, leafless stems emerge with blue flowers, resembling daisies.

The chicory flower resembles a daisy and is about one and a half inches wide.  Chicory blooms from June to October. This plant grows only one or two flowers at a time, with each flower only lasting one day. These flowers attract many insects with their nectar and pollen including bees, butterflies, and flies.

The chicory plant  grows all over North America. It can grow as high as four feet tall and can be found growing in fields, roadsides, and your backyard. You might find it growing alongside other weeds and grasses, including dandelions, Smooth Crabgrass, English Plantain, Switchgrass, and thistles.

Edible Parts:

All parts of the chicory plant are edible.

Eat the leaves when they are young in a salad. The leaves are somewhat bitter, similar to the leaves of its cousin, Dandelion, but this can be reduced by cooking them. The root can be cooked as a vegetable or as a coffee substitute. To use the root as a coffee substitute, roast the Chicory Leavesroots until they are dark brown and then pulverize them. Roots can also be eaten raw or boiled, or they can be dried, ground, and used as seasoning. The flower is edible but is very bitter.

Medicinal Use:

Historically, chicory root has been used for jaundice, spleen problems, and constipation and a tea made from foliage supposedly promoted bile production and released gallstones.

The leaves are a great source of vitamin A, B complex, C, E, and K and also potassium, calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, and magnesium. Chicory root contains vitamin C and Inulin which is believed aids in maintaining strong bones and teeth by improving the absorption of calcium and magnesium.

Chicory RootHerbalists use chicory tea (made from the roots, flowers, and leaves) as a way to detoxify or purify the blood, as a tonic, and internal organ decongestant.

Toxicity:

Chicory has no known toxicity. However, for some humans, it can cause contact dermatitis.

 

 

 
Remember: Check with a qualified naturopathic doctor or other health professional before eating any wild plant.