Day 128 Taraxacum Officinale

April 16, 2015

(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th year where I write and illustrate a blog on each day's gift.)

In my college freshman botany class at Frostburg, one of the course requirements was to memorize the Latin names of 50 plants and wildflowers in the area. The professor took us out on a field trip and pointed out skunk cabbage, Jack-in-the-pulpit, pink lady's slipper, Solomon’s seal and one I already knew—dandelions. Since then I’ve forgotten all the Latin names except for one, perhaps because I used the mnemonic of “official taxi.”The Latin names have never been useful to me, but I can now recognize some wildflowers besides dandelions. 

Long disdained by many homeowners, under-rated dandelions have culinary and medicinal value. Their greens, used in salads, are high in vitamins A and C and they boast some amount of iron, calcium and potassium. In some parts of the world, dandelion flowers are used as a honey substitute and their ground-roasted roots can be used as a coffee substitute and a diuretic. In herbal medicine, they are used as a laxative and for improving digestion.

In the 60’s, when I heard my roommate, a farm girl from Boonsboro, talk about her family making dandelion wine, I asked her to sneak some in on her next trip from home. She returned with cough syrup bottles filled with the wine and we all giggled about breaking the rules. I have broken many rules since then but I’ve never had any more dandelion wine. It was so sweet that it was awful. 

I’ve never understood why people would want to get rid of dandelions on their lawn.  To me, their strength may not lie in taste but in their looks with their sunshine flower heads and their magic make-a-wish seeds. Today the first dandelion of the season greeted me as it stretched its bright golden crown from the ground. On my property, these sunny weeds are safe from chemicals and extraction. Welcome!

My gift today is a dandelion.

> Day 129 Thinking

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