In my continuing series on common weeds and wildflowers, I now have another bloom in my yard to write about – the common dandelion. Most consider dandelions to be pests – invasive weeds that must be eradicated with a good dose of Roundup, but dandelions are like a health food store growing in your yard
Dandelions, of course, are small plants with yellow flowers and deep root systems, but botanists classify them as herbs with numerous health benefits. For hundreds of years, people have used the leaves, stems, flowers, and roots of the dandelion for medicinal purposes.
For starters, the little yellow plants provide anti-oxidants including beta-carotene which helps protect cell growth. They also have polyphenols, another type of anti-oxidant.
Like a yellow Ibuprofen, dandelion extracts and compounds may help reduce inflammation i in the body. The potassium found in the flowers can aid in reducing blood pressure. Some researchers have proposed that dandelions could help people achieve their weight loss goals based on the plant’s ability to improve carbohydrate metabolism and reduce fat absorption.
Additionally, dandelions may help reduce the threat of cancer, boost the immune system, aid digestion and keep skin healthy. Did you know, for example, that dandelions can reduce the impact of damaging ultraviolet light? Wow!
And they are edible – flowers, stems, roots and all. They are similar in flavor to arugula. You can eat them in salads or cook them as greens.
Is there anything this plant can’t do?
Oh, it can also get you drunk. Many still make dandelion wine. My father-in-law, Pa Paw made it all the time. I’ve tried it, but I much prefer a nice Pinot Grigio.
Perhaps one of the greatest assets of a little dandelion is the pleasure it brings a child when the flower turns into white, fluffy seeds and a strong puff from a child’s lips sends them scattering.
You know, I hate the thought of mowing down even one little plant. From now on, I might just cut around them.