Dandelions, An Herb With Its Own Day: National Dandelions Day
The days are getting longer and warmer. Your lawn is turning green and your grass is reaching for the sky. No sooner than in a blink of an eye, you see weeds popping up everywhere. In your garden, your lawn and in between the cracks of your sidewalk and driveway. Weeds are plants that grow where we don’t want them to grow. There is one weed that has its own day. And on April 5, we will celebrate this glorious weed, the Dandelion. Yes, it is National Dandelion Day.
What is a Dandelion?
A dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a weed to many people because it is an unwanted plant in their yards. But, in reality, it is an herb. Yes, you read that right, an herb.
A dandelion is an herbaceous plant. It is also a dicotyledon plant, which is a plant with, according to Berkeley University an:
- Embryo with two cotyledons (seed leaves)
- Pollen with three furrows or pores
- Flower parts in multiples of four or five
- Major leaf veins reticulated (arranged in a net-like pattern)
- Stem vascular bundles in a ring
- Roots develop from radicle (primary root)
- Secondary growth often present
The dandelion is a perennial we see growing during Spring to Fall. The flower opens up as the sun wakes the morning sky and closes when the sun waves her rays goodbye for the night. There are times the flower will close when the sun is out, a drop in temperature, or if it is cloudy outside. There are times the flower will close for 10-20 days before they open up into the white seeds we all, and the wind, make wishes on.
The dandelion is an invasive species and is part of the Asteraceae family, also known as the Compositae family, which has over twenty-three thousand species. Many we know as sunflowers, daisies, and chrysanthemums. The dandelion is found all over the world, except Antarctica.
The leaves of the dandelion do not grow from the stem of the flower, but from the root.
The dandelion is hard to kill. They can take root in impossible places, in gravel, cement, and soil. They are fast growers and can regrow from the root if you mow them down.
Dandelion: The Herb and Food
Yes, I know. You all think of it as a ‘weed,’ that it destroys the look of your yard. But did you know, the dandelion is edible? That is right; you can eat dandelions, even livestock can eat this herb. Just like other food, such as peanut butter, there are people who are allergic to the plant. One allergic reaction is Compositae Dermatitis. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your doctor before eating dandelions.
You can use the herb in:
Dandelion: The Herb and Medicine
Like many herbs we use today for medical purposes. The dandelion is no different. The herb is a good source of vitamin A, C, iron, calcium, and potassium. Other uses of the herb are:
- Filter the liver
- Remove toxins
- Helps the digestive system
- Diuretic & laxative
- Blood purifier
- Rheumatic problems
- Make into an essential oil
- Joint pain
Check with your healthcare provider before taking dandelion or any other supplements.
Dandelion: The Herb and Folklore
Folklore is beliefs, customs, and stories of an area that is passed down from generation to generation. And the dandelion is no stranger to folklore.
We all have done it as children. Picking leaves off flowers and saying those seven words: “He loves me. He loves me, not.” Or, “She loves me. She loves me, not.” With the dandelion, it is a different twist, which is only useful when the dandelion goes to seed. When you see that big white puff-ball, you cannot help but blow on them and set them free.
“He loves me. He loves me, not.” Or, “She loves me. She loves me, not.”
Now, the folklore goes, if you blow all the seeds off in one blow, you are loved with a passion. If there are still seeds, then you lover has doubts about the relationship.
Another love folklore comes from: The Child and Childhood in Folk Thought: (The Child in Primitive Culture), by Alexander Francis Chamberlain. If you are separated by the one you love, rather that person knows it or not, take one flower that has gone to seed, think about your love, turn towards where your love is and blow on the white puff-ball (seeds). They will take flight and send your message to your love.
The dandelion is called the “Clock Flower.”
When you blow on the seeds, it tells you the time. How? It all depends how many times you blow on the flower to release the seeds. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary by Douglas Harper, “the number of puffs required to blow them all off supposedly being the number of the hour.”
Other folklore with time comes from The Child and Childhood in Folk Thought: (The Child in Primitive Culture), by Alexander Francis Chamberlain. “The dandelion is called the rustic oracle; its flowers always open about 5 A.M. and shut at 8 P.M., serving the shepherd for a clock.”
“The dandelion is called the rustic oracle; its flowers always open about 5 A.M. and shut at 8 P.M., serving the shepherd for a clock.” – Alexander Francis Chamberlain
The dandelion is said to predict the weather. In Camping for Boys by H. W. Gibson. “The dandelion is an excellent barometer, one of the commonest and most reliable. It is when the blooms have seeded and are in the fluffy, feathery condition that its weather prophet facilities come to the fore. In fine weather, the ball extends to the full, but when rain approaches, it shuts like an umbrella. If the weather is inclined to be showery, it keeps shut all the time, only opening when the danger from the wet is past.”
In Scott Cunningham’s (1956-1993) book, Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. The dandelion root, when brewed in a tea, can aid in enhancing psychic abilities, divination, and prophetic dreaming.
According to Sarah Anne Lawless, if you drink dandelion wine, it can aid you to talk to deities and spirits. Also, use the wine as an offering to Hecate by pouring the wine into a small hole you dug in Mother Earth and cover it. Walk away and don’t look back. Plus, you can use it to talk to the spirits of the dead or walk between the realms and speak with the spirits there.
Something we all done as a child. We snap off the dandelion when it goes to seed. We think real hard on a wish then we blow the big white puff-ball (seeds) hoping our wish will come true.
Dandelions: The Herb: For the soil and life
With many people feeling that the dandelion is a weed, it helps the soil. It helps break up the soil, reduce erosion, brings air to the Mother Earth and provides nutrients for other plants.
Dandelions are a good food source for wildlife, especially for our bees. Because the flower is hardy, it is one of the first flowers to pop up and one of the last flowers we see before winter hits. The flower is a valuable source for the bees until the rest of the flowers come into bloom.
National Dandelion Day: Celebration
How can you celebrate this herb, this flower?
- You can read up on the plant and learn about it.
- Try some tea, wine or cookies made from dandelions.
- If you live in a place where dandelions are growing, get out with your children and create a flower headpiece, necklace, or bracelet like you used to do as a child.
- Check out your local boutique, park or community for events happening.
- If you live in Michigan, Bailey & Hames Boutique will celebrate the day between 10 am to 7 pm.
- In South Carolina, Meadowlark Farms will celebrate the day with dandelion sweets and tea from 10 am to 1 pm.
How will you celebrate this misunderstood herb?