Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved dandelions! I would pick large bouquets, make flower chains, make wishes as I blew the seeds into the air, and admire the tenacity of the dandelion that grows through sidewalk cracks . I never understood why people had to kill their whole lawn to get rid of these delightful flowers. In recent years, I have seen a resurgence in appreciation of dandelions by fellow foragers with headlines such as: The Many Health Benefits of Dandelion, 16 Ways to Eat Dandelion, and Save the Dandelions. Save the Bees. to name a few.
Dandelions are everywhere these days! This series will give you all the facts you need to know about Dandelions as well as showcase how to forage and prepare those front yard dandelions into everything from bread to sauteed greens as well as wine and tea..so stay tuned!
Taraxacum officinale from the family Asteraceae, otherwise known as the Dandelion (French for lion’ tooth) are native to Eurasia and North America. This common “weed” is entirely edible from flower to leaf to root. Dandelions have small flowers formed together into a composite “flower head” ; and a single flower in a head is called a floret. Like Many Taraxacum species, the dandelion produce seeds asexually by a process called apomixis ( the seeds are produced without pollination). Dandelion offspring, then , are genetically identical to their parent, i.e. clones.
In the Garden
Dandelions grow in Zones 3-10, and do well in partial shade to full sun. This perennial will grow in most soils that are moist and fertile with a pH of 6-7.0. Some dandelions can reach up to 12 inches in height but average around 6 to 8 inches tall. If you choose to grow your own rather than forage, choose seeds from a large leaf variety from a specialized seed catalog. Sow the seeds directly in the early spring. In order to harvest roots, add plenty of compost or manure to your garden each spring to help loosen the soil. Planted dandelions will flower in late spring and are usually free of pests and diseases. When you plant dandelions, you may need to do some thinning as they will have the tendency to take over your garden. The seed heads and individual seeds can be saved easily in an envelope.
To be continued…..