The dandelion is a common plant of the sunflower family. The smooth, erect, hollow flower stalk rises from the center of a rosette of leaves. As every American with a lawn knows too well, the dandelion bears a bright yellow flower that soon becomes a feathery ball of seeds which are blown far and wide by the wind. The name dandelion means "tooth of a lion," referring to the irregular, jagged leaves. In the spring the dandelion is valuable to commercial beekeepers since it furnishes large quantities of nectar and pollen that are needed for feeding the young bees.
Dandelions are believed to be native to Europe and Asia but are now found in most of the temperate areas of the world. They are especially abundant as a weed in the eastern United States.
Dandelions have been used as food for centuries, but have been cultivated only within recent years. They make healthful hot greens for the daily leafy vegetable. Cook as you would spinach, adding a little more water. Dandelion greens also make a wonderful addition to the salad bowl.
Due to the variability of the plant and the freedom with which the seeds germinate, there are hundreds of varieties of dandelions. One of the main commercial varieties is the Improved Thick Leaved. This has large, dark, broad green leaves. In good soil the plants attain a spread of one-and-a-half feet. The leaves are thick and blanch readily. This type is also called American Improved. Another relatively important commercial variety is Common French or French Large Leaf, with large, broad, partially toothed, thick, and easily blanched leaves. It is pink-ribbed.
Tender, fresh, young green leaves that are still attached to a portion of the root are likely to be succulent. When leaves are separated from the base they wilt rapidly. Seed stems are an indication of age and toughness. Age or damage is also indicated by wilted, flabby, yellow, or tough leaves. Avoid dandelions that show excessive dirt or insect damage.
Benefits of Dandelion
Dandelion greens have more vitamin A than almost any other vegetable. They are also high in potassium, which makes uncultivated greens bitter to the taste.
Dandelion greens are a wonderful liver cleanser and are valuable in helping the flow of the bile. Dandelion tea is an excellent drink for helping the liver and gall bladder, and also in cases of rheumatism or gout. The greens stimulate the glands. Besides cleansing the liver, the body will be relieved of many toxic conditions that are indicated by eczema, skin rashes, etc.
Nutrients in one pound
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