Savor The Seasons

with Crystal Stevens

Dandelion, a Wonderful Weed

An herbalist friend once described medicinal weeds as “plants growing in our backyards often times so close to our back door that they seem as though they are just begging to get inside and alleviate what ails us.” Herbalists across the globe are all aware of the powerful medicinal qualities of what most people refer to as “weeds”. Many people go through great lengths to achieve perfectly manicured lawns. I do not. My motto is, if it’s growing, it has a purpose. Invasive or not, every plant has a purpose, whether it be for pollination, erosion prevention, food for animals, insects and people or just for the sake of photosynthesis. In today’s fast paced world, it is hard not to lose our connection with nature and the understanding that we have an innate symbiotic relationship with plants and animals. We are inevitably responsible for the future of our planet. We are so busy with the fast pace reality and rituals of everyday life that we hardly notice the beauty beneath our feet, and even worse, we see what could ultimately heal us as something that is a “nuisance”.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that, “A weed is just a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered”.

Weeds around the world have been used medicinally for centuries to treat a number of ailments from headaches, nausea, menstrual cramps, labor and birth, cold and flu symptoms, and many more. The dandelion plant has a plethora of medicinal uses. The roots are a powerful antioxidant and are a friend to the digestive system. According to Phoebe Yin, ND at Bastyr University, dandelion root is vital to cleansing the liver, the primary organ for detoxification. Dandelion roots can even be roasted and used as a coffee substitute. The greens make an excellent pesto or salad and are high in vitamins and minerals. The flowers are high in iron, beta carotene and vitamin C! Aesthetically, the flowers make a nice garnish for any dish and are absolutely gorgeous in a refreshing herbal lemonade.

If you don’t use chemicals on your lawn, you can harvest dandelions from your own back yard. Dandelion greens taste the best when their leaves are tender in the spring.

For Dandelion Fritters, whip up your favorite wet batter and mix in your favorite spring herbs or spices. Dip the individual flower heads in the mixture. Fry them in oil that burns hot. They are excellent served with a sweet dipping sauce made with honey and yogurt.

Crystal Stevens is the co-director of La Vista CSA Farm in Godfrey, Illinois. For more information call 618-467-2104 or email Garden@lavistaCSA.org.