Photo: Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and Hobomok skipper (Poanes habomok)
The flower is a sunny composite with bright yellow bloom, which is made up of many petals in a tight cluster. The bumblebee is one of the first insects to seek out its sweet nectar. Photo is of a tiny skipper butterfly sipping dandelion nectar. The early plant of spring is a delight in salads. When dandelions grow in a field, I trust no weedkiller has poisoned the earth. Otherwise, only grass grows. The cold and wet days of April are long this year. It was the last week of April before I could venture out into the woods in search of a spring tonic such as dandelion.
Wild foraging always keeps me connected to the earth beneath my feet. I am communing when I am outside and scouting wild edibles. Before I take anything, I make a little ceremony of honoring the plant and ask permission to gather something to use for myself. I put down an offering of a sacred plant which is ground up, and smudge with white sage. Both are healing, and I feel a sense of peacefulness in making an offering. Nature is a gift, and I need to honor and remember the sacrifice on the part of a plant’s life. Who am I to grab something without asking? The flowers and leaves are nourishment to wild creatures or pollinators.
There among the woodlands, clumps of dandelion grew. I picked leaves and brought them back, washed them, and put in a salad. Dandelion is rich in iron, potassium, and magnesium. Iron promotes the healthy production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. I feel sluggish after the long hard winter. After eating several leaves in a salad, I feel a slight surge of energy. Potassium is good for the heart, kidneys, and other organs to work properly. I try to aim to eat a banana or a potato a day to ensure that I am getting enough potassium. Magnesium is necessary to transport calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes. The process is imperative to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm. The three of these minerals seem to go hand and hand, and all for the asking are readily available in dandelion.
I could go to the health food store and purchase dandelion leaves as a tea or dried herb, but the plant parts would be dead to me, and I am not confident that a plant in a store has the same value as the fresh herb itself. As an herbalist, I feel this is true, at least for me.
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants