Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tooth of the Lion

You guessed it, the tooth of a lion means dandelion. The bane of our society but it wasn't always so. In fact when the Mayflower landed in 1620 in what is now the United States, there were no dandelions. As shocking as it may seem to you golfers and lawn enthusiasts but the dandelion was purposely brought to Pennsylvania by the Germans in the 1850's. The English brought their share over too and in Canada the French were busy seeding the countryside.

Now you know who to blame, I'm sure your wondering why. Why did they find it so necessary to give us this legacy, --pain in the behind -- oh I mean the first lovely bouquet of the spring bestowed upon mothers across the whole northern hemisphere and I suspect southern also. Let me know those of you reader down under. Just how wide spread is this plan. It would be fascinating to find out.

I would suspect that misery loves company, no, I mean that since the English established Australia and were great colonizers that they would have carried the seed far and wide.

They tell me that the Welch heralded far and wide the dandelions virtues in the 13 century. We now know that it is a rich source of vitamins and has many healing properties. One Internet site compared them to carrots. The dandelion is a better source of Vitamin A than carrots and has the same level of Vitamin B, C, & D. Though in my opinion, the flavor isn't comparable at all. I'd rather eat 10 carrots than one dandelion. But wait, carrots aren't naturally available in the early spring. That's probably why the dandelion was so beneficial to the early settlers especially since it grows in about any soil - grr..., even our clay soil. The lovely bright sunny dandelion contains a good helping of potassium, iron and even an impressive level of calcium - 1 serving is equal to 1/2 cup of milk. I'll take my calcium straight from the goat, thank you.
How can they be so nutritious when they grow about anywhere, even in our terrible clay soil? It's because of those obnoxiously foot long tap roots. They reach down deep into the earth to pull up nutrients and in doing so making it very difficult to eradicate them. One site which extolled their virtues suggested that if you wished (not) to cultivate dandelions that you should plant them annually (Yup, that's all I need more of them.) since they become more bitter with age. What I want to know is how you get rid of last years relatives to plant new one, especially when they propagate by seed and root from the neighbors, and fields beyond.
So why again am I not to curse this plant. Well, it's suppose to be an excellent diuretic. Where as other diuretics leach potassium from the body, dandelions don't because they are a rich source of it. That would be wonderful if I needed one but I take medication to help me retain fluids, not loose them so I'll be gladly give you my helpings.
It is suppose to be wonderfully beneficial on urinary tract infections but I haven't any though the stimulation to the kidneys and liver systems would be helpful.
As for aleiving constipation, hmm... prunes or dandelions what wonderful choices. I use chocolate instead, it seems to do the trick for me and has a much more pleasing flavor.
So if I was all wise and natural, instead of cursing those dandelions, I would be embracing them, cultivating them annually ( if only I knew how to naturally rid myself of their pesky ancestors). I should be finding exciting new ways to serve them to our family. Convinced to propagate dandelions? Me neither but we did once try the leaves in a salad - bitter - but then it probably wasn't from a first year plant since I can't tell the difference. The blossoms aren't too bad when picked before they open up. We cooked them up like eggplant, dipped alternately in egg, then flour, and fried. They tasted like eggplant. As for making dandelion wine, that's out, allergic to alcohol and forbidden by our religion.
So though I was rather fascinated by the flowers as I photographed them and I was tempted, only for one insane brief moment to try fixing them for the grand kids, I think I'll just try and keep them under control. I can't get the grand daughters to eat my regular food, too natural I suspect, let alone dandelions.
So tell me, are there any of you who relish the arrival of dandelions and cultivate them or are you like me and just wish the grand kids would just quit blowing the white seed puffs like they were blowing bubbles?

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