Dandelion

Often thought of as a weed, dandelions are also a rich food source. The common dandelion has bright yellow flowers, greens, and a taproot. Dandelions are though to have originated in central Asia but now occurs naturally throughout the world.

Related: Daisies, sunflowers, and other asters

Harvest season in the LV: Spring, summer, and fall

Growing conditions: Dandelions thrive in most soils.

Pollination: Dandelions are pollinated both by bees and by wind.

Cooking/Preparation required:

  • The young leaves are among the first spring greens, loaded with nutrients. The pale crown that forms at the base of the leaf is also tasty. Older greens are often stir-fried with onion or added to soup.
  • Young flower buds can be eaten until the flower begins to open. More mature flowers are often harvested to make dandelion wine.
  • Taproots can be dried and roasted to make a coffee substitute or cooked for soup or any recipe that calls for root vegetables.

Fertilizers or pesticides: Dandelions do not need any soil treatments or pesticides, and any such applications would make them unsafe for use as a food.

Health considerations: Leaves are usually high in vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, E, & K; vitamin A precursors alpha- and beta-carotene; minerals calcium, iron & manganese.

NOTE:

Nutrient content can vary greatly depending on soil conditions, with organic methods and a soil rich in organic matter generally producing the best results.

‘Dirty Dozen’ or ‘Clean Fifteen’ lists do not necessarily apply to produce grown on local farms — you need to check with the farmer to determine if and when any fertilizers or pesticides were applied.