Dandelions – bet you can’t eat just one

 

 

Dandelions are found worldwide[1]. They are thought to have evolved about thirty million years ago[2].  They are considered a noxious weed and a nuisance in residential and recreational lawns in North America[3]; however, they are entirely edible – flower, stem, leaves, and roots.  Although there are written histories of human consumption of dandelions, the degree of bitterness of each part of the plant is considered discouraging to eat.  Perhaps this is reflected in the various other names it is known by, for example,  piss-a-bed[4] , worm rose[5], and cankerwort.

 

Dandelion leaves contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C, and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese.  It has significant anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic, anti-hyperglycemic, anti-coagulatory, and prebiotic effects[6]. Wild dandelions leaves, once a springtime treat for Native Americans, compared to spinach, for example, have eight times more antioxidants, higher content of dietary fiber and proteins and a greater variety of amino acids, vitamins and minerals and has higher proportions of unsaturated fatty acids (oleic, palmitoleic, linoleic, and linolenic acids)[7].

 

Emerging scientific evidence suggests that dandelions might have potential to prevent or ameliorate the outcome of several degenerative diseases such as atherosclerosis and coronary artery and vascular disease, obesity, diabetes mellitus, and cancer[8].

 

So the irony is that this highly nutritious omnipresent plant is deselected from growing near our home in preference to non-edible other plant varieties (lawn) that are groomed weekly.  This superior plant is poisoned or ripped out of our lawns and placed into the trash. 

 

[1] Brouillet, L. (2014). Flora of North America North of Mexico. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

[2] Gardening in Washington: Dandelions. (2003). from http://gardening.wsu.edu/

[3] Stewart-Wade, S., Neumann, S., Collins, L., & Boland, G. (2002). The biology of Canadian weeds. 117. Taraxacum officinale G. H. Weber ex Wiggers. Canadian Journal of Plant Science, 82, 825-853. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 82: 825–853

[4] Taylor, J. (1819). Antiquitates curiosae: The etymology of many remarkable old sayings, proverbs and singular customs explained by Joseph Taylor (2nd ed., p. 97). T&J Allman.

[5] "Den virtuella floran: Taraxacum F. H. Wigg. - Maskrosor" (in Swedish). Linnaeus.nrm.se

[6] Schütz, K., Carle, R., & Schieber, A. (2006). Taraxacum—A review on its phytochemical and pharmacological profile. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 107(3), 313-323.

[7] Souci, S., Fachmann, W., & Kraut, H. (2008). Food Composition and Nutrition Tables (7th ed.). Stuttgart: Med Pharm Scientific.

[8] González-Castejón, M., Visioli, F., & Rodriguez-Casado, A. (2012). Diverse biological activities of dandelion. Nutrition Reviews, 70(9), 534-547.