Dandelions- Herbs for Beginners

I asked my children what plant they wanted to study next. Decidedly they said, “Dandelions!!!” As I have studied dandelions, I think children and dandelions may be kindred spirits. They are often overlooked, but they are joyful and full of hope. They renew life. They grow without asking permission! They pack a lot of life and energy into a small size. They are a beautiful gift from God. 

Last year we were at the cemetery on Memorial Day to visit my father-in-law’s grave. My mother-in-law put many beautiful flowers around his grave. My children looked around and noticed many graves without flowers, some of them over a hundred years old. They asked why so many graves had no flowers. We told them that maybe the people who knew them had died or moved away. They began picking dandelions and putting them on the forgotten graves. They were so happy running around the cemetery putting dandelions on the grave markers. Thinking of others makes you happy, but also one of the gifts of dandelions is joy. 

Dandelion flowers are one of the first to pop up in the winter. They are joyful and hopeful. Dandelions feed butterflies and bees at a time when there aren’t many other flowers for them to eat. They are rich in minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium and vitamins. They are deeply nourishing- the perfect food to eat after a long winter. They also help your body clean up from the inside, nudging your digestive tract, liver and kidneys to flush out what isn’t needed. They make everything work better. 

Dandelions are RESILIENT- they thrive in tough conditions! They adapt to being sprayed and pulled up- they just keep growing. You’ll see dandelions brightening up their space, even if it is a sidewalk crack or the side of the road. They know that their gifts of joy, hope and renewal are needed. When you see dandelions coming up, remember that like God made dandelions resilient, He also made you resilient. You can grow well in tough conditions. You bring brightness, hope, and joy to the world just by being here. You are more loved and cared for by God than any flower. “Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.” Matthew 6:34 NLT

The official flower for the military child is the dandelion. Like dandelions, military children learn to thrive anywhere, growing wherever the wind takes them. 

Dandelion Kids

Military children never know

Where next their journey leads.

But they are tough and put down roots

Like dandelion seeds.

They make friends everywhere they go

It’s hard to say goodbye, 

But they move to new adventures,

Like dandelions fly.

These children know that they are loved

And they learn right from the start

That home is less a place they live

And more inside their heart.

 Military Children: Our Dandelion Kids


Dandelions did not originally grow in America. When the early European settlers came, they brought with them dandelion seeds to plant in their gardens. They knew that they would need dandelions to make nourishing soups and food. The vitamins, minerals and nutrients in dandelions helped people recover from long winters and illness. In times of war and food scarcity, dandelions provided deep nourishment. In Russia, dandelions were nicknamed the “elixir of life” because they were so beloved. Dandelions are grown in Japan as a decorative plant, they have bred white, orange, copper and black dandelions.  Some have described dandelions as a plant that follows people, wherever there are people, you’ll find dandelions. 


Dandelion comes from the French, “Dent de lion” which means teeth of a lion. The Spanish name for dandelion is “Diente de Leon”. The leaves look like lion teeth. Dandelions have leaves and flowers that all come up from the base of the plant- they don’t branch off. There is one flower per stalk or stem. The stem is hollow and when you pick it, it has a milky sap. There is no hair on the leaves or the stems. If you see prickly hairs on the leaves, it’s not a dandelion. If the plant branches off, it’s not a dandelion. 

Dandelion flower

The yellow dandelion flower is made up of hundreds of tiny individual flowers. Dandelion flowers open to the sun, and close when it’s getting dark or a rain storm is approaching. If you’re not sure if it will rain, check the dandelions! Dandelion flowers are sweet and good to eat. If you are adding dandelions to your food, let them sit outside for an hour or two so that any bugs on them will leave, before bringing them in the house to eat. The green base of the dandelions flower can be bitter. It helps to remove the green flower base before eating or adding it to food. If you think the dandelions may have been sprayed with an herbicide (a chemical that kills weeds), don’t eat them. 

Use dandelion flowers like you would use a fruit. Dandelion flowers can be sprinkled into salads. The flowers can be added to cookies, cakes and bread, like you would add cut up fruit. You can add the flowers to lemonade to make dandelion lemonade and popsicles. You can add them to hot water to make dandelion flower tea. Dandelion jelly can also be made with the flowers. 

Dandelion flowers don’t last for very long after you pick them- usually only a day or two. Whatever you’re making with dandelions, use them right away. If you are making dandelion jelly or another food that requires a lot of dandelions, you can freeze the flowers as you wait for more dandelion flowers to grow. 

Dandelion flowers can be infused into an oil, like olive oil or sunflower oil. The flowers are high in vitamins A, B, C, D, and trace minerals which are great for the skin. Dry the flowers out for 1-7 days, then put them in a mason jar and pour olive oil over them. Shake or blend the flower oil every day, and after a couple weeks you can strain the oil.  The dandelion infused oil can be made into a salve that is great for rubbing into sore muscles, or can be used in a lotion or lip balm. 

Dandelion flowers have been used to dye wool. Dandelion flowers are sometimes used as paint. Have you ever used a dandelion flower to paint the sidewalk?

Seed Puff

Maybe God put dandelions at children’s level because He knew children would love to pick the flowers and blow on them to make wishes. Dandelion seeds are carried by the wind, and can travel up to 5 miles. Dandelion seeds can also be eaten, they’re highly nutritious but also bitter, and tiny. If you want to plant dandelions in your garden, put a paper bag around the puff ball and hang the bag upside down to dry. Scatter the seeds in a corner of your garden, they don’t need to be covered with soil. 

Dandelion leaves

Dandelion leaves are very high in vitamins, minerals and important nutrients. They are high in vitamins A, C, K, Omega 6, iron, calcium, potassium and beta-carotene. Use dandelion leaves like you would use spinach or kale. Raw dandelion are less bitter in early spring, after the snow has melted, and in autumn after a few frosts. Raw dandelion leaves can be added to a salad. You can add them to cooked soup, omelets, pesto, creamy sauces, pizza, lasagna, noodles or rice. 

Dandelion leaves can be quite bitter in the summer. The bitter flavor makes your stomach produce more digestive enzymes. These digestive enzymes help you digest your food better, and help the liver and pancreas work better. Here are a few tricks to help lessen the bitterness of dandelion leaves. 

1. Pick them in early spring or in autumn after a few hard frosts. 

2. Add lemon juice or vinegar to the dandelion leaves. Add something salty, like anchovies.

3. Soak the leaves in salt water. Then drain the water and use the leaves.

4. Boil the dandelion leaves in water, drain, then boil again. Don’t throw away the water used to boil the dandelions, it is full of nutrients. Let it cool then use it to water plants. 

Dandelion root

Dandelions have a long tap root. Their long root makes space for air and water to get into soil that is hard. Dandelions aerate the soil. Their root draws up many minerals, bringing needed nutrients closer to the surface, and improving the soil for other plants around them. When you see dandelions growing in your grass, it’s often because the soil is compacted or hard. Having the lawn aerated will help stop the dandelions from growing where they’re not wanted. 

The long tap roots of dandelions can be dug up with a screw driver or spade. They are sweeter in the fall, but can also be harvested in the early spring. Use dandelion roots like you would use a root vegetable like a carrot or potato. Dandelion roots can be used in a stir fry, soup or stew.

Dandelion root can be roasted in a frying pan, then made into a hot drink, like an herbal tea. Some people think it tastes like coffee. It also is medicinal, and helps your body clean things out. 

Dandelion root helps clean things up, helping your body get rid of what it doesn’t need. It works like a laxative (it makes you go number 2). The roots and leaves are a diuretic (they make you pee). Dandelions also replenish important minerals, like potassium, which is often depleted when taking man-made diuretic medicines. 

Dandelions are extremely helpful to the liver. One of the liver’s jobs in your body is to clean things up and break them down- things like artificial chemicals, dyes, and toxins. The liver also breaks down worn-out red blood cells, hormones, fats, and protein. If the liver is too overwhelmed to work well, everything gets sluggish, slows down, and feels kind of sick. When the liver is clean and happy, every part of the body works better, and your body has more energy to heal itself. One of the reasons dandelions are so good for you is that they help the liver flush out the junk that is clogging it up. 

Dandelion root is sometimes used to help people recover from tough cancer treatments. Dandelion root has inulin in it, which feeds the good bacteria in your intestinal tract. It promotes intestinal health.

This story of a woman digging for dandelion roots reminds us that plants have a spirit. Saying thank you to the plants before using them is good medicine. “I was reminded again this last week of the power of engaging Dandelion in conversation before harvesting her. I was pulling weeds to make room for some of the daffodils that are coming up now, and there were a few dandelions in the flower bed that looked tasty to me. I pulled at a couple -- no luck. "Wow... stubborn girls, you are." Then I thought of how rude and selfish I was being. I looked at the whole bed and admired all of it -- weeds and all. Then I told the dandelions that I would like to use their good energy in a tea. If anyone wanted to come along, I would love it. Without an ounce of effort, I pulled up a dandelion with a 2-foot long root system.”

Henriette's Herbal Homepage, Herb of the Week: Dandelion

Dandelion relative- Salsify

There is a plant called “salsify” that looks like a giant dandelion. It has a yellow, white or sometimes purple flower. It makes a big puff ball of seeds that is about 4 inches wide. It has white milky sap. Salsify is also edible and similar to dandelion in its food and medicinal uses. 

Funny Nicknames and Folklore about Dandelion

A dandelion nickname is “Monk’s head” or “Priest’s crown”- once the seeds are blown away, the flower looks like a monk’s shaved head. Priests and monks used to shave their heads as a sign of devotion to God. Many religions use cutting their hair, or not cutting their hair as a sign of their commitment to God. Would you shave your head like this, or grow your hair and beard out long to show devotion to God? What ways do you show God you love him?


Dandelion is also called “swine’s snout”- because a closed dandelion flower looked like a pig’s nose. 

“Piss-en-lit” is the French name for dandelion. It means pee in your bed. Dandelion leaves make you pee a lot. If you had an infection in your bladder or a kidney stone, dandelions would help flush out the bacteria or kidney stone. Hopefully you’d wake up and find the bathroom instead of wetting the bed! Dandelions were also called “piddly bed.” 

Many games or superstitions have developed around dandelions. Here are a few from the book “Dandelion Medicine” by Brigitte Mars (p28-29). When you read them, give them a thumbs up if you think they’re true or thumbs down if you think they’re not true. 

“Make a wish, then blow on the seed head. If every single seed flies away, your wish will come true.”

 “Drinking a tea of dandelion leaves is said to promote psychic ability, especially if you drink the tea while visualizing an increase in that talent”

“Maidens would blow on the seed head, the number of seeds remaining would determine how many children they would have once married.”

“When a maiden blew on a dandelion seed head, if at least one seed remained, it was a sign that her sweetheart was thinking of her.”

“When the downy seeds blow off the dandelion and there is no wind, it will rain.”

“Lovers should blow dandelion seeds in the direction of their beloved to send messages of affection.”

“Blow on a dandelion seed head, and however many seeds are left are how many more years you will live.”

 “Growing dandelions at the northwest corner of your property is said to bring favorable winds.”

Some have said that dandelions have the sun (yellow flower), moon (puff ball), and stars (seeds) in them. This poem shares that thought. 


I hope you smile when you see dandelions, and remember that God made you and the dandelions resilient, joyful, and hopeful. Dandelions are a gift! And you are too!


Mars, Brigitte, Dandelion Medicine, Storey Publishing, MA, 2023

Seleshanko, Kristina, The Ultimate Dandelion Medicine Book, 2024

Blankespoor, Juliet, The Healing Garden, Harper Collins Publisher, NY, 2022

Gladstar, Rosemary, Medicinal Herbs, A Beginner’s Guide, Storey Publishing, MA, 2012

De La Foret, Rosalee, Alchemy of Herbs, Hay House, NY, 2017

Video: Herbal Jedi, “Dandelion, Nature’s Hard Worker” 



Popular posts from this blog

Roses- Herbs for Beginners

October 2021 Homemade Lotions and Soaps

Massage for healing