Dandelion – A gardeners nightmare or cooks delight?
Mention Dandelion to any gardener who loves their lawns and they will tell you a few stories about how difficult these plants are to get rid of, and how pernicious these weeds can be. Dandelions belong to the Taraxacum genus of the family Asteraceae and found in most of Europe and North America. They tend to have leaves that are flat and close to the ground and produce bright yellow flowers throughout late spring and summer. Whilst the flowers tend to brighten up any wasteland, they also grow happily between grass in lawns. Due to their low habit, they avoid being cut down by standard lawn mowers. Every plant produces a beautiful spherical head of winged seeds that easily disperse in the wind (see below).
The recent series of television (Masterchef: The Professionals) had a cook James Burton using Dandelion roots in cooking! Till that time I’d no idea that these plants were edible, so used as I was to zap them with weed killer on first sight. Reading up a little more on these plants, it turns out that the dandelion leaves are an excellent source of iron and calcium (more than spinach)!