Heartlife Holistic® Hobby Corner: Wildcrafting Dandelion Flowers

I wildcrafted dandelion flowers last week. I missed picking the dandelion flowers in my yard! I  kept meaning to pick them, but they all went to seed before I could get to them!

Dandelions have gotten a bad rap in modern times. How spraying  toxic chemicals onto greenery around your home where you and your family live, eat and play became a thing, I just don’t know. Chemical industry, anyone?  Makes my eyes red and itchy just thinking about it!

Funny, in the 1800’s, people used to pull grass OUT of their yards to make room for more useful plants, such as dandelion, chamomiles, mallows, and lemon balm!  I’m with the 18oo’s on this one! Less toxic spray leaching into our water aquifers and more useful plants! After you read about all of the dandelion’s useful properties, you may doing the same thing!

It’s a good thing I live in a woodsy area where there isn’t a nosy neighborhood watchperson driving around looking for yards to complain about!  I don’t pay much attention to having a lawn!  In fact, my lawn is pretty much a conglomeration of natural ground covers like plantain, pachysandra, sweet myrtle, violets, moss, thyme, sage, sweet woodruff, rose campion, lemon balm  and some grass here and there.

I really like to stroll around my yard and see all sort of little volunteer plants popping up all over, like baby bigleaf ligularia and  black eyed susan, too. It’s fun poking around and seeing them deciding to grow here and there!

Oh… back to finding some dandelion flowers. I took a nice walk in my area looking for wild dandelions, I don’t want ones that are sprayed…here are some pictures of my wildcrafting stroll…

Did you know that during the dust bowl, and the great depression, wild dandelion was gathered and eaten as one of the green staples that kept people alive?  The dandelion became a symbol of poverty.  In Europe, large estates with expansive green lawns were a symbol of prosperity, a great expanse of land not needed for growing food. This style of estate gardening was brought to the United States. After the depression, no one wanted to be reminded of the food their families had to forage for and eat during the depression: the creamed chip beef, toast, pumpkins, potatoes, dandelions.

I remember my mom telling me about how she and her mother, my grandmother, whom we called Muzzy, used to go to big field in Lawrence, Long Island, New York. There, Muzzy would gather large bouquets of dandelion leaves in her apron, her little girl at her side. They would take these edible greens back to their house to eat as a healthy salad. My mom said it was all open fields and farmland when she was a small child.

Did you know that dandelion leaf and roots are high in vitamin A and C, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and folic acid?  The bitter taste is indicative of its cholagogue action, which comes from the constituents taraxacin, taraxacerinum and inulin, mostly found in the root, and the composition varies with the seasons, from spring to fall. These constituents increase bile production and stimulate digestion, helping digest fat and cleaning the hepatic system. Plus, the constituents in dandelion helps relieve constipation. Drink some dandelion tea!

Today, I can’t imagine gathering dandelion greens from a field in Lawrence, LI, NY,  to eat!  Roadside, there’s so much contamination from the car exhaust and there is so much municipal spraying going on to eradicate weeds, I wouldn’t trust these greens to eat!

But the flowers are the part to use for an infusion of  magical dandelion oil, not the leaves. The flowers have such constituents as caffeic acid (antioxidant and anti-inflammatory), chlorogenic acid (anti -oxidive and immuno-stimulant ), chicoric acid (reduces inflammation in arthritis, stimulates T-cell production), luteolin (anti-oxidant) Robin Rose Bennet, in her book, Healing Magic, says the yellow flowers carry the emotional resonance of the “…joy of living, help release emotional pain and bring light to darkness…” (Bennett, 2004, p. 96).  In Amanda Klenner’s wonderful focus magazine on dandelion, Charis Denny says that the emotional resonance of the dandelion is persistence, planning and working those plans, but overdoing this means that the inner life is not being experienced.

I took the flowers I gathered and left them to dry for a day or so, as dandelion flowers tend to retain water and need little drying out. Otherwise, mood could grow in the oil as it infuses. I picked off all the leafy material and spread just the flowers out to dry overnight.

 

After that, I found some time to sterilize a mason jar.  I keep a box of different size mason jars for my herbal hobby projects. I put the dried dandelion flowers in the jar and covered them with olive oil. You can use any carrier oil, really. I also like jojoba oil alot but didn’t have any on hand. Then, I let put the jar out on the window sill in my office to infuse for about 10 days. Once I have my dandelion oil made, I’m going to make a dandelion oil salve for my mother in law for her arthritis in her hands. The anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties in the flowers combined with some essential oils should make it yummy!

I’ll be showing you the salve recipe when I make it soon!  I’ll be using the dandelion oil and beeswax to make the salve.

 


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