Dandelions are One of the world’s most recognised flowers people often call them a nuisance weed and try to eradicate them. Here are some of the many uses of dandelions and why you should love them.
Dandelions Can Make Tyres
The latex extracted from dandelions has been used to successfully create the treads on a tyre. The traditional source for rubber comes from the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) that only grows in tropical regions. Dandelions can be grown almost anywhere in any soil and are one of the hardiest plants. This means they could become a reliable non-tropical source for rubber/latex.
Normal wild dandelions only contain a small amount of latex but some Russian varieties are high in latex in the root. These varieties of dandelions can still be grown anywhere. When you cut a dandelion and see the white sap this is the latex.
The sun, Moon and Stars
Dandelion is the only flower that throughout its lifecycle represents the sun, moon and stars. The flowering yellow head represents the sun, the puffball the moon and the seeds scattering the stars.
Seeds can travel over 5 miles away. Throughout the world, the dandelion is one of the most known and recognised flowers.
Good For The Environment
Dandelion is one of the most beneficial weeds. It helps gather nutrients (potassium, calcium, copper, iron and magnesium), attract beneficial insects (such a ladybugs and lacewings) looking for nectar and loosens the soil.
Dandelions have deeper roots than grass so it does not compete for nutrients. The best way to let a dandelion benefit your garden is to let it grow and die naturally. As it dies the thick root acts like a beneficial worm for the soil.
Dandelions Are 100% Edible
The leaves, flower and root can all be eaten. They do have a bitter taste but this can be reduced by picking in the spring or cooking. The young leaves tend not to be very bitter and these are great in a raw salad. Spinach is often touted for its high protein content but gram for gram dandelion leaves are higher.
The dandelion root can be made into a caffeine free coffee substitute. To make dandelion coffee gather plenty of roots, clean them and slice finely. Place in the sun or dehydrator for a few hours to dry then bake in the oven at 200C for about 30 mins. Finely grind and then bake again for 5 more mins. Then the coffee can be stored in an airtight container where it will last a year. To make dandelion coffee use 3 tbsp of the powder per cup of coffee wanted, bring a pan of water to the boil then let stand for half an hour. Strain the dandelion then reheat the coffee and add coconut milk or similar if desired.
The leaves can be treated just the same as spinach – eaten raw, steamed or boiled. The flowers can be used to make wine but are also a great addition to a raw salad to brighten it up and add nutrition.
There are also said to be medicinal purposes for dandelion such as boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, helping to detoxify the liver and kidneys and aiding digestion.
We Can Do Better
Millions of gallons of herbicide are used every year to kill dandelions to grow the perfect lawn. The herbicides are very detrimental to the animals and plants in our environment. Gone are the days when people would just manually weed out dandelion as a quick lazy fix is more preferable. It’s estimated that 30% of the water supply in the US is used just to water lawns to keep a non-native plant looking good.