plantlore

Dandelions *Taraxacum Officianale*

Ah the humble Dandelion: still much overlooked especially by gardeners trying to maintain that (unethical) perfect lawn. Dandelions are incredibly nutritious and giving; a well know spring tonic and an important early food source for our insect friends. Not just the vital bee’s either, 85 species of insect rely on them as a food source so rather than pulling them up why not acquaint yourself with their awesomeness.

A background

Easy to identify with its cheery yellow flowers and delightful pom-pom seeds; The happy Dandelion gets its name from the old French name ‘dent-de-lion’ meaning lions teeth because of the jagged shape of the leaves. I mean they don’t look like lions teeth to me but jagged, yeah sure. I guess the smile of a lion would be jagged and few ancient French people would have seen one…anyway. Other names include wet-a-bed, pissenlit, piss-the-bed, devil’s milk pail, priests crown, blowball, cankerwort and lions tooth. All the bed wetting names refer to its diuretic properties and the juvenile myth that eating before bed would make you wet yourself. ‘Devil’s milk pail’ refers to the sticky white sap excreted from the stem which has anti inflammatory properties and was believed to keep witches at bay (sorry, not sorry old timey christians) In America during WWII Henry Ford was experimenting in using it as a latex alternative but the need for this research ended with the war.

Medicinal Properties

The beneficial properties of Dandelion are 3 fold; Firstly, they are highly nutritious and in this time of early spring, they would have been a sight for sore eyes. They contain more beta carotene than carrots, are high in Potassium, Iron, Calcium and Vitamins A, B, and C. A very welcome addition as a pot herb. So commonly used by our ancestors that seeds were taken to the Americas by the English so they would have a fast growing, high nutrient food if needed.

Secondly, when taken internally they are an excellent spring tonic removing the waste built up in our systems from winter, stimulating the liver and lymphatic systems. This helps remove toxins including uric acid which leads to gout and adds to rheumatism.

Their diuretic properties make them useful in fighting acne, cellulite and water retention while providing nutrients lost through more urination. They also stimulate appetite and generally awaken a sleepy system.

Thirdly, used externally, Dandelions soothe stings and bites, ease many skin complaints such as eczema and psoriasis. A popular addition to gardeners balms (along with plantain) as it draws out splinters and stings.

*a word of warning here* some people do get an irritation from dandelion, it’s rare but one should always check before slathering thenselves in something new.

How To Use

All parts of the Dandelion can be used. In spring harvest the flowers and leaves (but leave plenty for the insects) to use in tea, tinctures and balms. The small young leaves taste awesome in salad as do the flowers. The buds can be Pickled or fermented much like capers. Dandelion flower wine is a favourite of mine make it now to drink next spring.

1 cup of Dandelion tea a day really perks up the system its also useful for emotional stagnation and has an uplifting effect.

In the autumn the root can be used to make a coffee substitute which is a fabulous liver tonic. Also a British traditional dandelion and burdock beer is delicous and still has a surprising flavour.

Magical Properties

Dandelions are associated with Jupiter. This means they can be used to support growth and transformation magic as well as abundance, purification and resilience. Drinking dandelion tea enhances psychic abilities and divination particularly if taken before bed as it increases prophetic dreams.

It is hard to resist blowing dandelion clocks. An activity lovers and the young and old have partaken in as a form of divination. The clocks are said to carry wishes and messages away from you making them useful in releasing, moving ahead and victory spells.

In sympathetic magic, Dandelions represent Hardy resilience. Their ability to grow just about anywhere and their abundance is used to boost our own.

Some witches associate Dandelions with Hecate because it covers 3 realms and our 3 selves: the long taproot reaching down to the underworld, the tall flower reaching upwards to the sky and the main growth along the ground where we too grow. Crowns of dandelions are often worn in Hecate’s honour and left at crossroads.

They are also known to be a favourite of Aphrodite because of their association with bee’s.

A tea of the roots left as an offering is said to attract spirits and gain their favour. Again, this is because of the taproot association and their use in giving messages.

So there you are; Dandelions. Once a popular superfood now cast aside as an unwanted weed by those who don’t see it’s value. Get to know our yellow friend a little better and they will enrich your life in many ways. Nurture them, your garden and body will thank you.

Do you have any Dandelion recipes? Hit me up in the comments or find me on social media.

Peace out witches!

Love Kate xxx

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