As I walk up the garden past my ally each day I say “Hello”, my dandelion is snuggled into the earth and sleepy at the moment. There is not much movement of energy yet she has remained green all through the snow and frost, so not totally asleep, just resting. Not many plants are as hardy as my little dandelion.
I'm not good with words nor am I much of a poet but I thought I would would try and get into the spirit of things and write a little ditty.
It’s cold, it’s January, and I’m almost asleep,
I hear you come and go and have a slight peep,
Not many others are as hardy as me,
But here in the garden I’m as snug as can be.
I decided to look at dandelion facts this month to start off my quest to get to know dandelion and I must confess it's something I could do in the warm.
Taraxacum Officinale Asteraceae Family
Other names: Lion’s Teeth, Golden Suns, Piss-a-bed, Blow ball, Peasant’s Clock, Crow-parsnip, Doon-head-clock, Wet-a-bed, Clocks, Devil’s milk Pail, Fairy clocks, Time-teller, White endive, wild endive, Time flower.
Description: Hairless plant growing up to 50cm tall with white latex in leaves and stems. Leaves are arranged in a basal rosette with uneven teeth. The flower heads are single and bright yellow, comprised of ray florets on a long single, hollow stem. The seeds have long beaks and umbrella shaped pappus, forming a spherical “clock”.
Habitat: Lawns, fields and roadside verges.
Season: Flowers bloom mainly between late March and early May. The traditional day to pick the flowers is St. George’s Day, the 23rd April. Leaves are best before flowering occurs, roots in autumn and winter.
Parts used: Leaves, roots, flowers and sap. Use flowers on the day they are picked before they close for the night.
Active ingredients: Bitters, tannins, some essential oils, flavonoids. High in minerals, especially Potassium, sodium, iron and calcium and vitamins A,B, C, D and K and also containing some protein (amounts vary in different parts of the plant).
Medicinal use: Most well-known for its diuretic property, hence the common name piss-a-bed. As a bitter, dandelion supports overall health by gently working to improve the functioning of the liver, gall bladder and digestive system. Sap is used on verrucae, corns and warts.
Culinary use: Leaves can be used in salad or cooked like spinach. Roots can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute. The flowers make a good wine.
Dye: All parts give a reddish-purple dye.
Animal uses: Wild birds and rabbits enjoy the seeds.
Toxicity: Not toxic but the cooked greens can have a laxative effect at first.
Dandelion facts: Dandelion pollen is used by more than 90 different insects including bees; dandelion is one the 5 bitter herbs of the Book of Exodus in the Bible; dandelions give out ethylene gas when growing which can slow the growth of nearby plants.