Plant Families: Dandelion



Dandelions are part of the Composiate family of plants. These plants cover Asters and Sunflowers.

I love  looking at dandelions-  When they pop up all over a field I get very excited.  I know that there will be dandelion tinctures, oils, fritters and if I am feeling ambitious, Dandelion wine, in my future.  Brigitte Mars, an herbalist and writer, knew so many things to do with dandelions (both edible and medicinally) that  she was able to fill up a book.

According to the web site ,, here is what can be said about the Compositae family that the dandelion falls under:

“The uniqueness of the Aster or Sunflower family is that what first seems to be a single large flower is actually a composite of many smaller flowers. Look closely at a sunflower in bloom, and you can see that there are hundreds of little flowers growing on a disk, each producing just one seed. Each “disk flower” has 5 tiny petals fused together, plus 5 stamens fused around a pistil with antennae-like stigmas. Look closely at the big “petals” that ring the outside of the flower head, and you will see that each petal is also a flower, called a “ray flower”, with its petals fused together and hanging to one side. Plants of the Aster family will have either disk flowers or ray flowers, or both. When the seeds are ripe and fall away, you are left with a pitted disk that looks strikingly like a little garden plot where all the tiny flowers were planted.”

Dandelion leaves can be a bit bitter especially after they flower.  They are great added to a salad, cook like spinach with garlic and oil or made into a pesto.  The bitter is supposed to be good for digestion and something that our ancestors regularly incorporated into their diets.

I like to make a salve with dandelion flower oil-  I find it nourishing and healing for my very dry skin.  Dandelion teas are good as a diuretic without depleting you of calcium.  The Rockland Forager is particularly fond of dandelion root ‘coffee’, a recipe we will make available soon.

One of the truly great things about dandelion is that it is readily available, you can collect it without worrying about depleting the supply.  It is a great plant to research, study the plant and learn about .  It is one of the great plants to adopt in the beginning of your plant journey.

I hope this inspires you to go forth and adopt a dandelion before they blow away.


Elana Fine

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