Many would consider it a weed, but dandelion ( Taraxacum officinale) leaves are full of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C and K. A cupful of dandelion leaves contains 112 per cent of the daily recommendation of vitamin A, 32 per cent of vitamin C and 535 per cent of vitamin K. It also contains lots of potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus.
The entire dandelion plant is edible. Flowers, leaves and roots have been chomped on or slurped up in liquid form for centuries, mostly for medicinal purposes, and in particular for kidney and liver complaints. It’s a natural diuretic. Even fitness guru Jillian Michaels (of Biggest Loser fame) markets her own dandelion tea, a drink touted “to rid our bodies of excess water, weight and bloating.” (Its other common name is pis-en-lit, or in English, pee in the bed.) The root is mildly laxative so it’s been used to treat constipation and indigestion. It‘s also used as an anti-inflammatory in traditional Chinese medicine.
Make sure you use only spray-free leaves from your garden, or sow your own seeds, available from Kings Seeds.