And from our resident Kitchen Witch we have a fascinating insight to a very common place but surprisingly magical plant which in its own way embodies the season.
Fairy clocks: The hidden magic under your feet – by Sutra
Dandelions were brought from Europe to the US as a food source, but today we pay them little mind unless to complain of their nuisance to our lawns. Their story goes back much further however. In Ancient china, dandelions were praised and cherished for purification of the blood and immune boosting properties. In the 11th and 12th centuries, Arabic Scholars preserved, expanded, and shared this knowledge. We begin to see them being used for a wide variety of liver and kidney troubles. The Arabs brought this news to Europe where they were given another name. Fairy clocks. Dandelions were referred to as Fairy clocks in the Middle Ages because they open and close predictably.
They open their arms to the morning sun and wrap themselves in their own warmth at night. They close when rain is near and open when sunshine is due.
They prefer to flower in early spring and late fall and have one of the longest growing seasons in all the planet's pharmacy. They correspond to the element Air as you will understand in a bit.
Before I talk a little about the uses of dandelion, I want to touch on foraging care and ethics. As you might know, bees are suffering mass deaths and while there are many hypotheses as to why this is happening, I think its important to do all we can to protect them.
Dandelions are one of the first spring foods for bees so if you choose to forage for them, please insure you are not clearing an area. Forage responsibly. Gather from areas that are not sprayed and avoid roadside herbs and plants. Learn about and understand your watershed. You will find more foraging hints on on RP 2.0
In Victorian Flower Language dandelions symbolize love, wishes, welcome, faithfulness, divination, and the sun. Their color is of fire, making them a perfect topic for Beltane. Other symbols and correspondences include:
Luck: Specifically luck in marriage when flowers are interwoven into the bouquet or in crowns for the united.
Success of a Union: When seen in dreams
Scott Cunningham writes that they increase psychic powers when taken in a tea and leaving a tea steeping by your bed will invite welcoming spirits though I haven't had much success myself.
Dandelions can be used in a form of herbimancy for the purpose of predicting fertility. Specifically, predicting the number of children you will have.
Pay attention to the little guys and when you spot the first dandelion gone to seed, sit beside it and meditate for a moment about the question you are going to ask.
Fairy Clocks I ask of thee..
the number of children that will come from me.
Pick the stalk near the base of the leaves and blow into the wind. The number of seeds remaining on the head may give you a heads up as to how many bedrooms you should prepare for in the future.
In another similar use, blowing all the seeds free of the head can predict if love is true. Some myths suggest that in old age, blowing the seed head and can predict how many summers you have left.
Anyone who has tried to grow a lawn, knows how tenacious these sun-kissed messengers can be. They range a large spectrum of hardiness zones and grow in many type of soils and elevations from from ground level to 10,500 feet. You find them in your yard, and all along the sides of roads. They peek from cracks in the sidewalk and brighten meadows, grasslands and in those tiny spaces in forests where sun touches the earth.
They are more than just tenacious, so too are they restorers. Though they love loose, rich soils, you will often find them doing a greater duty. Their strong root systems dig down and loosen compacted earth. They enrich their micro-climate and encourage earthworms who in turn improve your soil. When they flower, they serve as buffets for bees and for birds. They are persuasive in their message, whispering to be heard over the din. They are practical and intentional in their sway on the environment. Acting as a gentle guiding force instead of forcing their point of view.
They germinate in 3 to 6 weeks and can survive mild frosts. They rewrite the quality of soil and other plants take notice and make their homes nearby.
Dandelions are high in Vitamin C and besides being used for kidney disorders, they are effective at curing warts. If you would like to learn more about the medicinal application of Dandelions, I invite you to join my Applied Herbalism Class coming this summer to RP 2.0
While many people find dandelions to be too bitter to be eaten raw, I find them a useful and tasty addition to salads or as substitute for arugula.
Wilting them with some garlic, butter, salt, and oil can make them more palatable. One dish I like to serve them with is caramelized tomatoes.
Wilt your greens as listed above and place them in the center of a dish. Turn your frying pan on high and spray pan with almond oil.
Cut your favorite heirloom tomato in half and add a little salt, raw sugar, coriander, and cardamom to the open face. Place them face down in the hot oil until they are warmed through and caramelized. Push on the center and when it gives gently, it is done. Carefully remove the tomato and place face up on the wilted greens. Add an ounce of raw feta, TBSP of toasted pine nuts, and some pineapple mint leaves to garnish.
Linguine with Mussels and Dandelion Greens
2 pounds of foraged mussels
1 large handful of Dandelion leaves, rinsed and left whole
1 pound of homemade linguine
1 large red onion chopped
2 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed
¼ cup of sun-dried tomatoes cut into strips
1 Dry hot pepper crumbled by hand.
1 cup of dry wine wine or whey from raw milk
½ lemon juiced and the rind shaved and set aside.
Salt and Pepper to taste
Clean all the mussels and debeard the mussels.
Blanch the greens in hot water for a minute or two. Drain in a strainer. Press away the excess water and give it to your houseplants when cool.
Heat oil over medium heat until it is hot, but before it smokes and add garlic, crushed pepper, and lemon rind. Keep it moving for half a minute and add salt and pepper to taste. Add the onions and greens and saute for 5 minutes. Just before taking them from the pan, add the sun-dried tomatoes,
If you are using dry pasta, Break all the rules. Heat the dry pasta in enough water to cover the strands. Add a TBSP of salt and let it boil. The water left in the pan with thicken to a saucy consistency. Remove the pasta, leaving the sauce.
Add the mussels to the pan and pour in the whey or wine. Cover immediately with the lid. Cook for about five minutes, shaking once or twice, until all the shells have opened. Discard any unopened shells.
Plate the pasta, with dandelions on top, then add the mussels and drizzle remaining juices over the dish.
Can be reserved with fresh grated cheese.
They work well with my spinach artichoke bake found in the Recipe exchange.
Beltane is one of the greater Sabbats and is a time for celebration of the uniting of God and Goddess, and of all life. It is celebrated by many cultures and traditions. I chose Dandelion for its fertility and because of its color. The element fire corresponds to this celebration as do flowers in full bloom. None are more widespread than dandelions in my location. They are one of the clues that the time for celebration is near.