Taraxacum officinale

Other Names: pissabeds

Dandelions are common weeds all over the world with varieties native to Asia, Europe and North America. The leaves are long and deeply serrated forming a basal rosette that emerges directly from the Earth above a long central tap root. The flowers that appear on a single shoot (hollow with milky white sap) are bright yellow composite flowers made of many florets. After the flowers are spent the "puff" appears with many seeds topped with white "Parachutes" that carry the seeds on the air.

Despite its low status as a weed, dandelions are a bright and cheerful indicator that winter is over and spring is here! It is one of the earliest sources of pollen for honeybees.

History and Folklore:

The name dandelion comes from the French dent de lion which means "tooth of the lion". The modern French name, however, is pissenlit, which means "to wet the bed". Indeed an English folk-name for the plant is pissabeds.


Dandelions grow everywhere. There's no need to propagate. But it is easier to gather roots from tilled soil than from the lawn, so till, scatter seeds and water. They like full sun.

Harvesting & Storage:

Leaves should be gathered as soon as they appear in the spring as they get bitter after a short while. These do not store well and should be used fresh.

The bright yellow flowers should be gathered as soon as they open. Remove the green bits from the base of the flower before using. These can be added to wines, vinegar or jellies.

The roots should be dug up in the autumn when they are plump with stored starches for the winter or first thing in the spring when they are sweeter. Generally anytime between the first of September and the end of February is good. These can be cut into pieces 3-4 inches long and dried on a screen in an area with good ventilation. Once dried, they should be stored in a cool dry area, sealed in a bug-proof container for no more than one year.

Magical Attributes:

The dandelion is masculine in action and associated with the planet Jupiter, the element of air and both Pisces and Sagittarius. It is also associated with any solar deity, Hecate, Brigid and Belenos.

A tea of the flowers and leaves may be drunk to increase psychic ability while pouring boiling water over a bowlful of roots will aid in calling spirits.

Make a wish and blow the seeds off a dandelion head!

Household Use:

Dandelion leaves are a great addition to the diet of breeding rabbits and lactating cattle and goats.

Healing Attributes:

Dandelion is most often used as a diuretic and in cleansing tonics and in cases of kidney and liver issues.
For liver issues, a tincture from the flower tops and/or a broth of the leaves is said to bring relief.
For stones, make a decoction of the root and cool before straining and then sweeten with honey. Drink a mugful morning and night. This is also good for indigestion and other stomach complaints.

A very strong decoction of the herb and root is recommended for many skin eruptions as its cleansing action helps purge impurities that can cause pimples, eczema and other skin issues. Drink a mugful several times a day.

In the early spring gather dandelion leaves by the bucketful and boil them up with some sorrel, parsley, carrots and onions to make a delightful broth than you can then can or freeze as a base for any number of soups the rest of the year. Use this base whenever you are feeling bloated or have digestive issues or simply feel the need to cleanse.

Culinary Use

Dandelion flowers can be used in salads, to make jelly, wine and punch. Make sure you just use the yellow flower bits as the green bits are bitter.

The young leaves can be used raw or blanched in salads or sandwiches, steamed like spinach or cooked into soup or broth.

The dried root can be ground up and used like coffee. Fresh roots can also be used in salads.

Dandelion Beer is made from the fermented dried leaves, Dandelion Wine is made from the flowers and homemade Root Beer sometimes includes dandelion roots.

There are lots of flowers that look like dandelion but aren't! If the leaves are branched, if there is more than one flower on the stem or if the plant is at all hairy, you're not looking at a dandelion! Don't eat it unless you're absolutely sure.

See Also

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