Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oh....the Dandelion

The dandelion is a perennial, herbaceous plant with long, lance-shaped leaves. They're so deeply toothed, they gave the plant its name in Old French: Dent-de-lion means lion's tooth in Old French. If you look around Catasauqua you will see many, many and I mean many dandelions. This spring has produced a bumper crop of the bright yellow flower, and now with the rain I see fields of white fluffy stuff already!

So you might say what is dandelion good for, well there are a few things. One of these is you can eat dandelion as a salad. The Farmer's market even sells it (I know I bought some, why I ask myself). The best time to get it though is when it first grows and before it blooms. The older it gets - the bitter it gets (like many of us).

Did you know - When placed in a paper bag with unripe fruit, the flowers and leaves of Dandelion release ethylene gas ripening the fruit quickly.

The flowers can be used to make wine. I did try this once. The best day to pick the dandelion flowers is May the 1st, thusly why it is sometimes called May Wine. I think I still have one bottle left, I didn't like it because I made it way to bitter and also it tasted a little grassy to me. I used a recipe that I got off line but I have since received my great-great grandfather's recipe, which I might have to try one of these days.

The humble little Dandelion has remarkable nutritional value, being very high in vitamins A and C, with more beta carotine than carrots and more potassium than broccoli or spinach, not to mention healthy doses of iron and copper for good measure.

Externally, the white sap from the stems or roots can be applied directly to ease the pain of sores and bee stings, and is useful in the elimination of warts, acne, and calluses.

Both dandelion leaf and root have been used for centuries to treat liver, gall bladder, and kidney ailments, weak digestion, and rheumatism. They are also considered mildly laxative. The fresh root or its preparations are thought to be more potent than the dried root. The leaves have traditionally been used as a diuretic.

Dandelions are especially well-adapted to a modern world of "disturbed habitats," such as lawns and sunny, open places. They were even introduced into the Midwest from Europe to provide food for the imported honeybees in early spring. (hmm, so that's how we got them) They now grow virtually worldwide. Dandelions spread further, are more difficult to exterminate, and grow under more under adverse circumstances than most competitors.

Did you ever notice that if you mow over blooming dandelion, it will just bloom lower so you can't run over it! Darn smart that dandelion. Every year I wage war with the dandelion and every year they win. So I leave you with this poem.

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.

Source: "Leaves of Grass," by Walt Whitman

and that's ..... Another day in Catasauqua.