To some, dandelion is just a weed, considered to be an invasive nuisance. She is uninvited.
The truth is she is missed and misunderstood.
Despite her brilliant yellow blooms akin to the respectable sunflower, they try to eradicate her. What they don’t realize is that she blooms just for them.
Though they don’t appreciate her, she keeps trying for them. She keeps being herself, showing her bright, happy blossoms, trying to please them. She blooms unassumingly, knowing there is little hope they might see her for more than a blemish, yet she still holds out what little hope there is- hope for the day when she'll finally be given a place of respect; hope for the moment when others will actually be happy to see her. She is resilient- the picture of a quiet patience, of forgiveness.
She’s been granting the wishes of rose-cheeked children for millennia. They found her secrets becoming and her dried blooms turned into seed plumes irresistible. Those children saw her for who she really was- a kind and gentle beauty who seeks to make their wishes come true. Those same children chose her when they would bring a show love to grace vases over kitchen sinks.
Where did all those children go? They must’ve grown up. They must’ve forgotten they used to think her a prize. They must’ve forgotten they once picked her with their small hands by the bouquets full to give to their mothers and grandmothers. They forgot they once valued her in all their childish enthusiasm.
A lucky few didn’t outgrow all the magic we were born into. Some of us kept our infatuation with the pretty little flower that didn’t smell good, left pollen on our noses and fingers, and were the main ingredient in our mud pies and witch potions. We remember her. We still make wishes with her. We know that she is like a nurturing mother- a unique, nourishing, hardy, necessary and steadfast lady.
However she might be pushed away, she will always find a way to return. It’s rather a comfort that she will always come back.
Those who care to know her already know her wonderful secrets and all she offers to the world.
She is a part of the aster family and is heralded as a healer. She offers herself as a well-rounded digestive aid from dyspepsia and appetite loss among others, as well as a blood purifier. She has anti-inflammatory compounds in her leaves and roots. Her leaves and flowers are rich in vitamins A, C and K, and are moderate sources of beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, iron and manganese.
Dandelion is a dish, completely edible from blossom to root.
Dandelion’s root can be harvested and eaten fresh or dried and added to soups. They can be used in tea and roasted and ground for a decaf-coffee substitute.
Young, tender greens are a great addition to fresh salads or sautéed in garlic and lemon juice for a hearty side of greens. An Appalachian recipe calls for young dandelion greens, bacon or ham, two eggs, 1/2 cup vinegar, sugar and flour. After soaking young dandelion greens in water overnight, wash and sprinkle with salt. Cook ham or bacon in a frying pan and remove the meat. Add the eggs beaten with vinegar and a little sugar. If desired, brown a little flour in the pan drippings before adding the beaten eggs and vinegar to make a thicker gravy sauce. Pour the greens into the hot gravy sauce to wilt slightly and serve hot.
The flowers can be used to make wine and syrup, as well as can be dried and ground to make a natural yellow dye. Blossoms can also be used for tea, battered and fried (they are quite good) or eaten fresh.
Folklore has dandelion perched in wedding bouquets to assure good fortune; her petals were added to foods as a well wish to the happy couple on their wedding day and help them only remember the good things- much like the wishes we made as children.
And, yet, she is still discarded, unwanted and called noxious.
I, for one, hope she never gives up. I hope she keeps trying. I hope I can be like her one day.
She is Dandelion. Hear her roar.