Dugan & Dame Plant Spotlight: Dandelion

Plant Spotlight: Dandelion

The dandelion is natures finest irony...
Plant Spotlight: Salt Reading Plant Spotlight: Dandelion 6 minutes Next Plant Spotlight: Yaupon
Dugan & Dame Plant Spotlight: Dandelion

The dandelion is natures finest irony. It has become the signature image of weed killers, yet the power of its roots can detoxify the liver, where we are burdened the most from these chemicals. The leaves and flowers are nutrition powerhouses and the sap (during certain times of the year) is food for our microbiome (the bacteria that resides in our gut and is so influential in our health). Its bitter taste connects with the bitter receptors throughout our GI tract and help us digest our food. 

Healing in so many ways. Beyond detoxifying the body and providing nourishment, the dandelion can guide us to better know ourselves and our journey if we simply pay attention. As children we playfully pick the seeded flowers and blow them in the wind hoping our wishes will come true. Then as adults, we try to eradicate this prolific and determined weed from our yards because we find them unsightly and unruly. This plant represents our movement through life. 

We come into this world full of joy, hope and fun. We make a wish on every turn, let our imaginations soar and revel in the delight of nature. We don’t see these plants as weeds that need to be destroyed but as adventure and fun that we need to participate in. Then somewhere along the way as we progress through life, we somehow begin to obtain this urge to control things. We slowly begin to lose our imagination and have to effort in order to be playful - what once came so naturally. We lose ourselves to work, family obligations, life… and feel a deep rooted sense of disconnection. We then strive for this connection and feel that if only we were more understood, more appreciated, more liked. And as we strive for what we feel we have lost – we begin to try harder and harder to control our environment, our surroundings, ourselves and how we act, react and respond to others. In this nature of controlling, we work harder, we give more, we try to have the perfect house and perfect yard which brings me back to the dandelion – we now try to eradicate this plant that once brought us joy because it doesn’t fit into our image we are trying to maintain. We want the beautifully manicured yard, the perfect body, the perfect personality, the perfect image to portray to others. Yet this obnoxious weed. This plant that refuses to die – refuses to let go, continues without complaint to show itself. To pop up somewhere new. Reappear in a different spot; in the smallest cracks of sidewalks if it has too. It is trying to tell us something.. It is trying to remind us of our childlike wonder that is still there, that will never go away and is just waiting on the sidelines to play. This plant and our interaction with it is a symbol of our lives, evolvement and call back to our authentic nature. It will never go away or be destroyed no matter how hard we push. And if we let go of control just a little, just long enough… This beautiful weed will flower… then seed… then beckon us to once again make that wish, blow it in the wind, and come back home to ourselves. 

Dandelions ability to grow anywhere and transform the soil by spreading its roots to break up dried soil, drawing in worms, pulling out chemicals and replacing with nutrients make this a powerful plant that has been used for magic. It’s magic is for adaptation and transformation – rightfully so!

For as long as can be remembered dandelion has always symbolized wishes. In Victorian Flower language, dandelion also symbolizes love. In addition it is a symbol for faithfulness, divination, grief, bitterness and the sun. 

Used as a tool to predict the number of children you would have, it was said if you blew the seed head, the number of seeds remaining would tell this fortune. 

Its flowers open with the morning sun’s first light and close in the evening giving it a strong sun affinity. It’s one of the first flowers to flower in the spring and the last to go dormant in the winter. 

The dandelion represents the bitter herbs of the last supper and are sometimes used to represent the Passion of Christ in theological symbolism, as well as being one of the bitter herbs of Passover. 

A powerful plant medicine indeed. The dandelion plant aids the digestive system, urinary system and pancreas. The roots stimulate bile flow (which helps us digest and absorb fat and fat soluble vitamins) and aids the liver in detoxification. The leaf is a diuretic (will help the body excrete water – make you pee) and helps the kidneys. And the inulin in the sap feeds our microbiome. Caution – for someone who has constipation, this plant may not be the best thing to consume since it stimulates bile and the gallbladder and you don’t want that building up. This plant is considered an alterative, which means it restores proper functions of the body. It simply helps us function more optimally (and who doesn’t need that). 

  • Spring – Leaves: The leaves will be the most tender in the spring which means less of a bitter punch. They regrow quickly and harvesting often encourages growth. Simply cut the leaves close to the base. Or wrap your hand around the base of the plant, pulling all the leaves upward into a bundle then slice across the bottom. 
  • Spring – Buds and Flowers: The flowers are best gathered on sunny days when they are dry and fully open.
  • Fall – Roots: The roots are higher in carbohydrates and inulin (the good stuff for our gut bugs) in the fall. I intentionally leave a bit of the root behind when I harvest because I know it will grow a new plant. 

We use dandelion in in our Sassy Bitters. This is our Rootbeer styles bitters and it only seems right to use one of the most prolific, versatile and healing roots in a ROOT beer concoction. We extract the root which provides a gently sweet/bitter flavor that is very signature of the dandelion itself. Beyond that you may just catch me snacking on the root because I love the flavor and admire this plant that much!