(Dramatic british nature documentary voice) Behold, the humble dandelion. A plant that has struck extreme worry into the hearts of lawn owners everywhere for centuries. Watch as it lurks menacingly through the sea of not so tall grass, stalking its next victim, annoying anyone that crosses its path. Oh, it certainly is the bane of most lawn owner's existence. Observe as it grows, enacting its beastly powers of ... photosynthesis, hypnotizing eyes with its bright yellow to slightly orange petals. A definite force to be reckoned with, it is. This persistent little vegetational growth seems to pop up any and everywhere it can. (I think we're good with the narration voice now) The overwhelming consensus is to encourage grass lovers to marshall an extensive fleet of chemical weaponry, and engage in a ruthless ecological battle with them, erasing them from the face of the earth (or at least one's lawn). However, one can instead take the road less traveled, and interpret the flower's extreme ability for almost mutant-esque survival as a sign of its harbored nutritional abundance, which can be utilized in a way that few are aware of.
The dandelion is among one of the most nutrient dense plants in existence, though most wouldn't know this due to the fact that we've been trained to loath them (along with most other natural things). But don't you go cursing those lawn dwellers any longer, for the dandelion is just as its name suggests: dandy and a lion – a king amongst "weeds," yet still dainty to look at :-).
Deriving its name from the French "dent de lion" (or "lion's tooth"), this dandy lawn weed will no doubt win your heart, thus compelling one to no more feel the urge to unleash a wrath of human might upon it again. For one thing, due to its deep reaching taproot, it actually promotes growth of shallow-rooted vegetation around it by drawing nutrients upwards. And, speaking of nutrients, just to give an idea of the power that this plant contains within its cells, below I provide the boastfully large list of healthful components that can be found in a cup of dandelion greens:
- Vitamin A (High) - Vitamin B1, Thiamin - Vitamin B2, Riboflavin - Vitamin B3, Niacin - Vitamin B6, Pyridoxine - Vitamin B9, Folate, Folic Acid - Vitamin C (Good Amount) - Vitamin E - Vitamin K (High) - Choline - Protein - Calcium - Iron - Magnesium - Phosphorus - Potassium - Sodium - Zinc - Copper - Manganese - Selenium - Natural Fats - Omega 3 Fatty Acids - Omega 6 Fatty Acids - Calories - Carbohydrates - Dietary Fiber - Natural Sugars
The greens can be cooked in any manner as you would cook other green vegetables, and they can be eaten raw. Want some good, healthy coffee? Well, just take the root of the dandelion, roast it, and boil it in water and voila! Yum yum dandelion coffee derived via a method that has been used for centuries by savvy humans all over the world. Deelish!
Now, it is important to be able to accurately identify a dandelion due to the fact that there are some fakes out there passing themselves off as dandelions (just sick, if you ask me). Firstly, the leaves of the dandelion are jagged, and hairless, like a Chinese hairless cat. Next, look for a single, hollow stem, whereas impostors, like catsears, have branching green stems. Don't be fooled! Those things are clever.
So, the next time you encounter those yellow petals twinkling in your eye, and those floating cotton-like bushels drifting in the wind, you can now maintain a healthy stress level. Keep that blood pressure at bay, for you have just run across a new friend who is a foe no more.
By the way, I should mention that it would not be a good idea to pick dandelions from a place that is heavily treated (or treated at all, actually) with any type of chemical fertilizer or pesticides. I do strongly believe that the chemicals just might over rule the nutrient benefits present in the plant, and have additional effects as well (just a hunch). Happy Eating! ^_^