By Montana Grant

Posted: May 5, 2022

Dandelions are not native to America. It was said that this plant came here on the Mayflower, in the 1600’s, or with Columbus. Sounds like a logical explanation until you begin looking at where dandelions first showed up. 

The Vikings carried these plants with them on their pre 1600 sailing adventures. Dandelions showed up in Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland. The dried roots were durable and fit into tightly packed casks or sacks. They could be easily planted and harvested. Recent evidence of Viking travels has been found into the St. Lawrence seaway and the great Lakes. Evidence also has been found along the eastern shores of America.

Leif Erickson is credited with discovering North America in 1010! He carried dandelions in his boats as a potable and healthy food. The Viking name for dandelions is “klikhier”. 

Everything about the Dandelion is edible. Early Romans and Greeks used dandelions for food and medicines. This unique plant is native to Eurasia. Once established, dandelions are there to stay. Their arboreal seed dispersal, and self-pollination, allows them to rapidly spread.

Dandelions are like arugula. Dried and roasted dandelion roots make a pleasant tea or a caffeine-free coffee. This plant acts like a diuretic. It also makes a good poultice, helps stomach and liver conditions, acne, high cholesterol. Laxative, cancer treatment, diabetes treatment, and so much more. If you have plant allergies, avoid dandelions. A serving of dandelions is about 25 calories. They also contain protein, fat, carbs, fiber, and sugar.

Commercially dried dandelion roots are pricey at over $30 /lb. Lawn farmers spend a boatload of money trying to eradicate this plant. Others allow them to take over their yards, so insects and bees have a nectar source. Sadly, dandelions easily absorb pesticides, and many bees pay the price. Dandelion flowers are also a poor source of nectar for bees.

If you plan to harvest these weeds for food, select a location where no herbicides, fertilizers, and pesticides have been used. Also avoid gathering these weeds around grills and air conditioners. Also avoid high traffic areas and pet parks.

You can eat the foliage raw, steamed, or boiled. The flowers can be fried and added atop other entrees. Wash the leaves before consuming in a salad or… Flavored olive oils add a different level of flavor. Cooking eliminates the bitterness. You can also brew the roots or ferment them to make beer or wine.

Dandelion Fritters are a favorite hunting camp treat. I pick the flower heads and rinse them. Now batter with egg and flour with a bit of milk. Add to oil in a fry pan and serve on top of your entrees. You can also serve them atop applesauce or drizzle some honey or syrup on them.

If you need to kill dandelions, consider these solutions.

Dig up the plant.    Roots can be 2-3 feet long. Once the plant is out, spray vinegar into the hole.

Use Corn Gluten Meal.    One application will last 5 weeks or so. Best applied when the plants first emerge.

Vinegar    Put vinegar into a spray bottle and spray the plants as they emerge.

Salt    a generous application of salt over a day or two will kill the plants.

Boiling water.    A gup of boiling water will do the trick and be absorbed into the plant’s deep roots.

                Block from the sun    cover the plants with materials that will keep the plant without sunlight.

Frequent mowing.     Time your lawn mowing to happen before the flowers go to seed. This will stunt the plants and prevent them from spreading.

Dandelions have many positive uses. They help prevent erosion, loosen hard soil, and fertilize grass by bringing up nutrients from deep down, using their long roots. Even the worst gardeners can grow dandelions.

These tasty plants are also abundant and free! I prefer the newer and smaller leaves for a salad. They are more tender and tastier. Larger leaves get bitter and chewy. If you boil the plant, like spinach, top with vinegar and sliced hard boiled eggs.

Make a Dandy Meal!

Montana Grant

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