By Natalie Embiscuso

If Dandelion had a dating profile it might read something like this, “Hi, I’m Dandelion. It may seem like I’m all around you, just another common weed, but that’s not true! I have a lot to offer. Yes, I’m bitter, so what? In fact, it may be one of my best qualities.” In this depiction dandelion is sassy and assertive, but who wouldn’t be after years of being sprayed with lawn chemicals and not being recognized for all its benefits!

Herbalists often say that it’s the plants that grow plentiful around us that are the ones we need the most, the ones we are being called to work with. Well, dandelions are popping up all around and will continue to do so into early Fall. The bees are grateful for the abundance of flowers, meaning it’s best not to harvest until later in the season. Dandelions will pop up through the Summer and leaving the plants only allows the roots to mature and grow heartier.

Young dandelion leaves can be cut and enjoyed raw, and are something that can be utilized while leaving the rest of the plant undisturbed. They taste similar to arugula and make for a deliciously simple salad paired with lemon vinaigrette. Dandelion leaves need to be thoroughly cleaned. Even so, never forage from an area that has been treated with chemicals and always identify plants with 100% certainty before eating.

Once you learn to identify and work with dandelions, you’ll fall in love! Each part of the plant can be used - some people have even dried the stems to weave baskets. The leaves can be dried for tea and the roots roasted and ground as a coffee substitute. Dandelion is a bitter that acts as a supportive digestive tonic and a cleanser for the liver. This plant catches the eye of children, but is often vilified by adults – one of many instances where children have the capacity to see the sacred nature of things others have stopped paying attention to.