A couple of years ago, some Jamaicans were visiting a friend in Illinois. It was the month of May and as they traveled down a country road, one of the Caribbean guests spotted the endless masses of yellow dandelions (taraxacum officinale) and asked, “Eh Mon, what are those pretty flowers?” My friend, who grew up in the Midwest could hardly believe his ears. Pretty flowers? To avid gardeners “pretty” has nothing to do with it. They are simply a curse.
Whether or not they are in fact a curse is a matter of perspective. To the pilgrims, who brought them with them to the New World, they were a help in attracting pollinators to their orchards and gardens. That’s right, dandelions are not native to North America. As is the case with numerous botanical species, they were imported from elsewhere. But in addition to attracting pollinators, dandelions serve a number of other functions.
According to an article posted by the University of Maryland Medical Center, dandelion leaves act as a diuretic, increasing the amount of urine the body produces. The leaves are used to stimulate the appetite and help digestion. Dandelion flower has antioxidant properties. Dandelion may also help improve the immune system.
North American Indians understood this and boiled dandelion in water and took it to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and upset stomach. In traditional Chinese medicine, dandelion has been used to treat stomach problems, appendicitis, and breast problems, such as inflammation or lack of milk flow. In Europe, it was used in remedies for fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea.
Herbalists use dandelion root to detoxify the liver and gallbladder, and dandelion leaves to support kidney function. Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. Dandelion leaves are used to add flavor to salads, sandwiches, and teas. The roots are used in some coffee substitutes, and the flowers are used to make wines.
Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security.
Should you decide to head outside and harvest some dandelions, let me make one precaution – don’t harvest dandelions from an area that has been sprayed with herbicides. Look for the ones growing in an open meadow. They’ll be strong and healthy, measuring as tall as 12 inches in some cases.
So if that doesn’t change your perspective, take it from the herbicide companies – dandelions may just be one of the most beautiful flowers in the whole world.