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Winter | Dandelion


Meet Dandelion, known to most of us for her bright yellow flowers that grow everywhere! Between pavement cracks, on walls, on lawns and in fields, her fluffy seed heads are our dandelion clocks and we drink her with burdock in an old fashioned fizzy pop.

You might know some of her other names such as clockflower, lion’s tooth, piss-in-bed,  tell time or Taraxacum officinale



This video is also available to watch on YouTube and Vimeo.

Dandelion is known to most of us as the bright yellow flower

that pops up on lawns and in pavement cracks everywhere in the UK

whose yellow petals turn into a fluffy ball of seeds

that we blow on, like birthday candles.

In the winter, the flowers and seedheads

are not there for us to help identify the plant

but the dandelion's leaves usually are

The name 'dandelion' comes from the French name for this plant

'dent de lion' which means 'teeth of the lion'

and indeed, if we look closely at the leaves of dandelion

you could imagine them as giant teeth

How long the 'teeth' are, how deeply the leaf is notched

varies from plant to plant

but generally these 'teeth' make this plant easy to spot

They usually grow in a rosette

that is, the leaves grow from a central point

each leaf growing out like spokes in a bicycle wheel

We can use all parts of the dandelion - leaves, flowers and roots

The winter is the best time to harvest the root, a valuable medicine

held in great esteem by herbalists

be prepared to dig quite deep to get the whole root out! 

Dandelion root's main reputation is for its action on the liver

by making the liver work more efficiently

In this way, it helps to boost the immune system indirectly

and can be used to help constipation, to stimulate appetite

and for skin conditions like eczema and acne.

A traditional way to prepare and preserve dandelion roots

is to clean and dry the roots for about 2 days over a radiator

or in an airing cupboard

Then cut into 1cm lengths

and roast in the oven on the middle shelf

at 200C, gas mark 6, 390F for 30 minutes

until completely dry and brown

Then, take the roasted roots

put them into a grinder and grind finely

put the powder back on the tray and back into the oven for 5 minutes

at 180C, gas mark 4, 350F

To make one cup of dandelion 'coffee'

add boiling water to one teaspoon of your dandelion root powder

Hot drinks made from roasted dandelion root

are often called dandelion 'coffee'

and touted as coffee substitutes

However, the only thing that dandelion root 'coffee'

has in common with real coffee

is that it's a similar dark colour

There is absolutely no caffeine in dandelion roots

and the flavour is uniquely its own

so please don't be disappointed in the taste

Enjoy dandelion root for what it is 

rather than dislike it for what it isn't!