Although considered a lawn and garden weed by many, dandelions are edible plants and considered a very nutritional food source by those interested in creating edible landscapes or foraging wild foods. Dandelions produce a low rosette of deeply serrated leaves arising just above the root. They produce yellow flowers on long stems held above the foliage throughout their growing season. If the flowers are allowed to go to seed they produce airy, puffy seed balls. Each tiny seed is attached to a parachute-like structure that allows it to drift with the wind and disperse itself a long distance from the main plant. Parts of the dandelion plant and flower stem exude a milky sap when cut.
If you intend to eat dandelion leaves be certain that you are growing or harvesting the leaves from an area that is free from home or garden chemicals. Harvest the youngest leaves as they tend to turn bitter with age. Flowers are best harvested soon after opening by snipping off just beneath the bloom. Dandelions are high in calcium, potassium, iron and vitamin C.
Leaves and flowers can be eaten fresh tossed in a salad. Fresh or dried leaves and roots can be used to make tea. Flowers are enjoyed by bees and other insects. Children love to blow the fluffy seed balls to watch the seeds sail away with the wind.