21 Apr Spring Herb n.2: Dandelion / Pissenlit
Dear nature lovers,
Today I’ll be talking (writing actually!) about a must-have herb, right after the Nettles : Dandelion or as the French call it Pissenlit. Where I come from, it is very common to eat Dandelion leaf salad in the spring due to its amazing properties and a very refreshing taste. It is not only in food that Dandelion takes place, but it is indispensable in herbal medicine for various healing properties. Read on to find out why the French call this herb “peeing in the bed” 🙂
What is Dandelion and why is it good for you?
Dandelion (Taraxum officinale) is a herb and a medicinal plant with its specific powerful yellow flower tops in spring and the “blowing lollipop” or “make a wish” when it is in its full bloom. I am sure you remember playing with it and blowing it when you were younger and making a wish 🙂
What makes this herb so special you are wondering? As mentioned in the preface, ever since I was little, we were making Dandelion leaf salads in the spring. I never really understood why, that is, until I started studying herbal medicine. It’s main and probably most known properties are the detox of the liver and diuretic properties. Diuretic means that it encourages urination which is amazing in urinary tract infections and as a kidney support.
This is why the French named it “Pissenlit” which in direct translation means “peeing in the bed” – for its diuretic actions 🙂 Furthermore, detox is especially good in spring due to all of the fresh minerals and vitamins the plants have and this has an amazing detoxifying effects on liver. Due to its richness in Vitamins C, E and antioxidants, it helps with the immune support and wound healing. As such, it has many healing effects on skin.
Other amazing healing properties of this herbs are, but are not limited to: aids in rheumatism, skin conditions, high blood pressure and it can even help to dissolve gallstones. What is more, its amazing roots, that are gathered in the autumn, have been used for cancer treatments in the past. Is that amazing or just incredible? 🙂
Where and when can you find Dandelion?
I am almost certain you have seen this herb practically anywhere throughout the spring, summer and autumn. If you haven’t, it is highly likely you will notice it from now on 🙂 It grows in waste areas, parks, and it is often thought of as a weed in gardens. It has very specific leaves (see the photo below). So next time you see Dandelions growing in your garden, you will be aware of their healing powers and will toss them in your salad, instead of a compost 🙂
Leaves are best gathered in spring as mentioned before, due to their rich contents. Always aim at younger leaves, as those won’t be as hard. With Dandelion you have to be quite quick: as soon as the flowers start blooming, the leaves have quite a bitter taste and are generally not as good as when they first come out. You can also eat the flower tops – they are delicious 🙂 the roots are also very healthy and you can roast or add them to stir fry. You just need to take a small knife and a bowl with you in the nature – your free & healthy salad awaits you 🙂
How can you use it?
there are various ways you can use your Dandelions: be it as a tea infusion with either fresh or dried leaves, you can add them to smoothies, have a Dandelion tincture and of course, add it to various foods. You can eat it raw, cook it and roast the roots – I’ve tried them and they have a somewhat sweet taste 🙂 I mainly used leaves and flower tops in salads this year, but you can add it to risotto, pasta, make a soup out of it and well, your only limitation is your imagination 🙂 or just have a simple and lovely bouquet, the colour of flowers is so powerful 🙂
When it comes to teas, I often have my special preferences 🙂 When I was unable to make a fresh Dandelion leaf tea, I was buying Cleavers’ Dandelion tea. Fresh leaves have a different taste and I often combine them with my two other favourite spring herbs: Nettle and Cleavers.
Dandelion salad anyone?
Here are a couple of my food pictures with (almost always) obligatory bowl of fresh salad 🙂 Since this spring season Dandelions started blooming very soon, I ate and combined it with other fresh salad only in March. I have forgotten that I am in the south now where summer temperatures start much sooner 🙂 Anyways, I combined it with lettuce, spinach and/or ate it alone – an amazing, super healthy, free and completely natural bowl of fresh salad. It doesn’t get better 🙂
That is about Dandelion, my second favourite spring herb I went to search for in the nature and enjoyed its healing and detoxifying properties 🙂 And a quote for the end:
“If Dandelions were hard to grow, they would be most welcome on any lawn.” – Andrew Mason
For more frequent updates and food recipes, you can follow me on
Copyrights © 2016-2017 Tina Suklje. All rights reserved.
Curtis, S., Green, L., Ody, P. & Vilinac, D. (2011). Neal’s Yard Remedies: Cook, Brew, and Blend your own herbs. London: DK.
Curtis, S., Thomas, P. & Vilinas, D. (2013). Healing foods: Eat your way to a healthier life. London: D