Dandelions (Taraxacum spp.) are quotidian and culturally misunderstood features of modern society. Having felt both these ways at times in my life (as imagine many people also have), I became curious about them. I had friends who taught me about the healing power of the roots and the edibility of the foliage. When I lived in New York City for graduate school I recall finding one growing out of a metal signpost of a busy traffic interchange; it was actually thriving there. That kind of became my totem when I lived in New York. I took a picture of the dandelion but I don’t really need to look at that picture to recall this plant, so strong and thriving in the unlikeliest of places.Read more
One of the times I left school I helped my friend dig out the fall roots out of her back yard. We cleaned them meticulously with a toothbrush and we hung them upside down to dry on a clothesline; she left the foliage on, which she said aided in the medicinal potency of the plant roots.
A couple years later I was thumbing through the pages of James Green’s The Male Herbal. One of his central hypotheses as an herbalist concerns the expurgation of the bitter flavor – so prevalent in plants such as dandelion – from Western diets has wreaked havoc upon reproductive organ and immune systems:
The mistake of eliminating the bitter flavor from our daily experience is as harmony disrupting as eliminating one of the colors from the light spectrum… It’s my opinion that the habit developed throughout our lifetime of avoiding bitter-flavored foods and herbs has created a chronic dysfunction in our lives and organs of digestion, assimilation, and excretion, eliciting secondary hormone imbalances (32).
We’ve grown the true or common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale; not to be confused with Cichorium intybus, “Italian” dandelion, or chicory) on Mano Farm since early in our tenure here. Perhaps naturally I became curious if there were other varieties and we’ve since discovered two: Rubber Dandelion (Taraxacum kok-saghyz) and White Dandelion (Taraxacum albidum). From stock plants it took a number of years to produce enough seed to offer through our catalog. With no exaggeration or marketing hype intended, available quantities of these latter two varieties will be extremely limited throughout most of 2014. I guess that makes these rare dandelions.
-Quin, November 2013