Lessons in Magical Herbalism: Dandelion
A Magical Herb: Dandelion
I remember when I was little, I thought dandelions were just the sweetest little gifts of the earth. Every spring, those cheerful little yellow blossoms would start dotting the roadside patches of grass, bursting from between the cracks in the sidewalk, and dotting the rare patches of lawn across Brooklyn. When they turned white, who could resist blowing away those seeds?
I remember a neighbor telling me not to do that. 'They're weeds,' he said. 'You'll just make more grow next year'.
Weeds? These cute little things? I was shocked. It seemed to me that there was a pervasive arrogance in human beings. If we didn't specifically plant something there and it grew, it was dubbed a weed. I bet if rose bushes grew all on their own on people's lawns, they'd be considered 'weeds'. But if crabgrass was expensive and hard to grow, people would be trying to make it grow all over their yards.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.
But these little beauties, as it turns out, are actually the gifts I've always suspected they were. And here's why you should consider growing some in your magical garden.
Dandelions in Bloom Are So Cheerful!
Details About Dandelions
Dandelion, blow ball, cankerwort, wish flower, puffball, piss-a-bed
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
3 - 10
You don't need to work very hard at it. In fact, if it's springtime, they're probably all around your neighborhood. Dandelion can be planted in the ground, grown in containers, or allow them to scatter themselves all over your lawn. Not only will they give the green field a nice pop of yellow, but they actually HELP your lawn!
Yes, these common 'weeds' have extremely deep tap roots that allows them to help break up and aerate the soil for better drainage. They also use those tap roots to suck nutrients up deep from the ground and bring them up to the surface for other plants to enjoy. Dandelions aren't competing with your lawn, trying to strangle your other plants . . . they are helping them!
These little flowers are not actually hard to plant—and while they'll appreciate a little compost or peat moss worked into the top layer of soil, it's not even necessary. These plants are survivors.
In early spring, just sprinkle the seeds over soil. If starting them in pots, you can even cover with CLEAR plastic wrap (they need the light to germinate).
Spray lightly with water and keep the top layer of soil moist, but don't let it get too wet or soggy.
After they begin to sprout, thin the plants to about two inches apart. Just let them keep growing until they produce their first true leaves, then you can thin to 8 inches or so.
Then just let them grow—they will come back year after year for several years if you leave the tap roots.
If ever there were a low-maintenance plant, it's the dandelion, but you can really make them flourish if you just ensure they're moist and throw them a little fertilizer or compost tea every few weeks.
People have long blown the seed heads of dandelions for various types of divination and magic. After blowing them, count them. It is supposed to tell you the time of day, or how many years you will yet live. If you wish to send a message to a distant loved one, think of it while blowing the seeds and it'll get to them. Some people make a wish and blow the dandelion puff—if there are no seeds left, your wish will come true, it's said.
The plants are sacred to the Goddess Hecate, and any solar deity.
They're a powerful little plant, like their namesake. The word 'dandelion' literally means 'lion's tooth'; they got the name from their yellow 'mane' and their jagged tooth-like leaves.
Dandelion tea is said to aid psychic visions and astral projection. The steam of the tea can be used to conjure spirits.
Medical Warning and Disclaimer
DO NOT take the following as medical advice. I am simply providing information about how herbs have been used medicinally, both in ancient and modern times, for those interested in herbalism. I may even relay my own experiences, but I DO NOT RECOMMEND that YOU use any herbal remedies without first consulting a qualified professional. Please remember that even common culinary herbs can be dangerous when taken in quantities that exceed normal food seasoning.
Medicinal Uses of Dandelion
Warning: Dandelions are part of the ragweed family. If you're allergic to ragweed, you shouldn't use it as it could aggravate your allergies.
Interactions: Dandelion may interact with certain medications. It may prohibit absorption of antibiotics. When mixed with lithium it might act like a diuretic. Medications changed and broken down by the the liver can break down faster in conjunction with dandelions. The plant may also increase potassium.
As stated, check with a qualified health care provider or pharmacist before mixing dandelion with any meds.
For pregnant and breastfeeding moms: there's not enough information about dandelion during pregnancy/nursing, so it's recommended you avoid taking it medicinally.
In general, food-like doses are considered safe for most people.
Dandelions may soothe stomach pain and decrease gas. They may also alleviate constipation and prevent urinary tract infections.
Dandelions have been found to soothe tonsillitis and other inflammations, such as arthritis pain.
For those not allergic, the tea makes a nice skin toner.
Culpeper recommends making a decoction of the roots and leaves in white wine and taking as a tonic. It's also supposed to be good for soothing sore or calming the nerves.
Some current studies are showing dandelions may show promise in treating some forms of skin cancer.
Can You Relate to the Dandelion?
“I was a dandelion puff...Some saw the beauty in me and stooped quietly to admire my innocence. Others saw the potential of what I could do for them, so they uprooted me, seeking to shape me around their needs. They blew at my head, scattering my hair from the roots, changing me to suit them. Yet still others saw me as something that was unworthy and needed to be erased.”
― Nicole Bailey-Williams
Harvesting the Incredible Edible Dandelion
Warning: Never eat dandelions you find growing unless you can confirm they have not been sprayed with any kind of herbicides or toxic chemicals.
All parts of this plant can be eaten. Dandelions are chock full of vitamin A and C, and are a good source of iron, calcium and potassium.
Dandelion blossoms are great for deep frying, whether you just want to season them up or whether you want to batter them in egg and breadcrumbs, or dip them in a tempura batter. You can also make a tasty jelly out of them, that has a lemony-floral flavor.
Just use a sharp knife to crop them when they're fully open.
If you want more seeds, leave a few and harvest the seeds when they're 'puff balls' and put them into a paper bag.
You can harvest the leaves as they grow, or when you harvest the blossoms you can pick them. Dandelion leaves taste a lot like arugula, and can be used like spinach. You can add them to a salad raw, cook them in stews, saute them or even toss them into your blender with your green smoothie recipes.
You can even harvest the dandelion roots—just leave some so you'll get a new crop next year!
Dry the roots by roasting them lightly in the oven, then grind them up. They make a delicious tea, but try mixing the ground root with your coffee grounds before brewing up a pot!
Dandelions Are Overlooked
Dandelion Jelly Recipe:
- You'll need about 4 cups of dandelion flowers. Remove ALL green parts and gather 4 cups of yellow petals (freeze them if you need to collect them over several days/weeks).
- Cover them with boiling water and cover the bowl. Let it sit for a few hours. Strain it through a fine sieve and measure the tea—you need 3 cups. Add more water if necessary.
- Mix 1/2 package of powdered pectin with 1/2 cup of sugar or Splenda in a bowl. Bring the tea to a boil and pour in the sugar/pectin mixture, stirring to dissolve.
- Add lemon juice and skim any foam, then put into a container with a tight cover and put it in the fridge. It'll be ready in a few hours, and will last up to 2 weeks. Or, you can can it like jams and store it.
Try Some Dandelion Root Tea
When I can't grow dandelions I just grab a bag of loose powdered root. It may amaze you that it tastes more like coffee than tea-- yet it naturally has no caffeine! Now don't get me wrong, I'm a huge coffee lover, but having this stuff around really helped me cut down on the java. This is one of my favorite brands.
What About You?
What do you think of dandelions?
The Answer Is Blowin' in the Wind...
- Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
- Culpepers Complete Herbal
© 2018 Mackenzie Sage Wright