The dandelion is the only flower that represents the celestial bodies in its short life cycle. It opens bright like the sun, it turns into a round puff ball white and luminous like the moon, and those white clusters turn into stars when blown on spreading seeds afar.
Oh, but I’m getting way ahead of myself.
In my current state of being more aware of the gifts of nature, I became curious about the dandelion because they are quite abundant and persistent every spring. I wanted to learn why with its bright yellow color everyone wouldn’t just smile at seeing them. Some people consider them to be a pest and menace to their perfectly manicured lawns.
From childhood memories of blowing on the last remnant of the flower, the white ball and making wishes I was anxious to find out why some people were so adamant about ridding their lawns of these joyful plants. I mean they are playful and lively, dancing a several inches above the ground—they are harmless.
I learned a lot about dandelions from health benefits to a variety of other invaluable uses. So, here we go.
Apparently, dandelions are not weeds—as commonly thought—but herbs which means they can be eaten and carry some medicinal effects. The name derives from French dent-de-lion and means “lion’s tooth.” They are very hardy and can grow just about anywhere as you’ve probably noticed. The dandelion is edible from its little yellow flower head to the green part closest to the ground. I have to admit I’ve not eaten a dandelion, yet.
In ancient times and in some cultures today, the dandelion is considered a symbol of healing. The plant is highly respected and valued. The dandelion is used to treat a range of ailments from dental issues to depression and lethargy. The plant is mostly water, however it contains potassium, zinc, iron, calcium, and vitamins K, A, and C. The dandelion is a natural source of inulin, a prebiotic useful in potentially improving digestion and lowering blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that dandelions facilitate the cleansing of the liver and reducing inflammation. The leaves may be used to reduce cholesterol and also may be useful in boosting the immune system.
Though a short life span of about a week and thanks to butterflies, insects, bees, and birds the seeds are spread far and wide. Dandelions are even good for the soil. Through its extensive root system—dandelion roots run deep about 15 feet—they aerate the soil spreading nutrients throughout the yard like fertilizer which is why they are hard to kill. But who would want to after all this information?
You can even make ice cream and dandelion tea from well-washed petals and leaves briefly steeped in boiling water to support the digestive tract. The dandelion is definitely an elixir for the entire physical system.
With this newly acquired knowledge about the dandelion I was curious to see if anyone had written about them and of course, in 1888, the nature poet Walt Whitman wrote:
The First Dandelion Simple and fresh and fair from winter's close emerging, As if no artifice of fashion, business, politics, had ever been, Forth from its sunny nook of shelter'd grass --innocent, golden, calm as the dawn, The spring's first dandelion shows its trustful face.