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Herbal Spotlight: Dandelions, the Wishful Weed
By Rachel Laase, The Jeavons Center Assistant Mini-Farm Manager and Student Herbalist


Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, is the poster plant for Round-Up pesticide products, that pesky weed that must be eliminated. Think again! Dandelion is one of the most useful plants, as every part has medicinal uses. This poor plant has a bad reputation, which we can all work together to change. Some of the medicinal benefits are to aid digestion, help kidney function, assist the liver in releasing toxins from the body, help regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, and, most recently discovered, it can help in curing cancer (there are many studies currently being released about this). The list goes on and on. There are so many reasons why we should love this wonderful plant!

While the plant can be fairly bitter, smaller, younger leaves tend to be more palatable. However, the leaves can be harvested at any point throughout the plant's life cycle. The beautiful, bright yellow flowers can be used to add color to a summer salad or even to make dandelion wine. The root of the dandelion can be dried and roasted and used as a coffee substitute and is what most herbalists use for making tinctures, capsules, and teas. This versatile plant is also rich in vitamin C, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and fiber. It's a good source of B complex, organic sodium, and vitamin D too. Dandelion leaves also contain protein, more than spinach!

Let dandelions thrive in your garden, and maybe let a few go to seed so you have more to harvest next year. And perhaps you'll get to make a few wishes.

Dandelion Coffee Recipe

4 c water
2 Tbsp ground, roasted dandelion root
2 Tbsp ground, roasted chicory root
1 cinnamon stick

Place water, dandelion root, chicory root, and cinnamon stick in a pot.
Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
Pour coffee into cups through a fine mesh strainer.
Add coconut milk or heavy cream if desired and serve.

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