Dandelion – A Foraging Guide to Its Food, Medicine and Other Uses

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Dandelion grows abundantly in many parks and gardens. This easily recognisable weed was once a cure-all of herbal medicine and is still popular in food and drink.

Common Name


Scientific Name

Taraxacum officinale


Asteraceae, formerly Compositae.

Botanical Description

Bright yellow composite flowers crown an erect stem (up to 1-30 cm) emerging from a rosette of large jagged, green leaves. Older plants have a long tapering white root and younger plants have thinner roots and rhizomes.


Perennial. Distributed in temperate zones.

Habitat and Distribution

Native to many temperate parts of the world, they are found growing in gardens, parks, lawns, roadsides, waysides, meadows, fields, orchards and woodlands.

Parts Used For Food

Roots, leaves, buds and flowers.

Harvest Time

Early spring to late autumn.

Food Uses of Dandelion

Dandelion-and-burdock is a popular fizzy drink made in the north of England.1 Dandelion root has also traditionally been used to make a coffee substitute.2

The leaves of the plant are considered to be very nutritious and can be eaten as a salad or fresh vegetable.3 In Asian cooking, for example, the leaves are used like lettuce, boiled, made into soup or fried.4

The flower-buds can be added to omelettes and fritters, the flowers baked into cakes, and even the pollen sprinkled on food for decoration and colouring.5,6 Blossoms make a delicious country wine and beer is brewed from the whole plant before it flowers.1

Nutritional Profile of Dandelion

The greens contain vitamins A, C, E, K, B6, beta carotene, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, iron, potassium and manganese.3

Dandelion Recipes

Herbal Medicine Uses of Dandelion

The plant has been used as herbal medicine to treat wide-ranging conditions, including stomach and liver complaints, diabetes, heart problems, anaemia, respiratory ailments, consumption (tuberculosis), toothache, broken bones and sprains, sore eyes, cuts and nervousness.2

Other Uses

Dandelion provides a rich source of nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinating insects from early spring to late autumn.


As a member of the same plant family as ragwort and daisies, dandelion may potentially cause allergies. However, there are few documented cases of the plant’s toxicity in humans.7

More About Dandelion

About The Author

Robin HarfordRobin Harford is a plant-based forager, ethnobotanical researcher, and wild food educator. He is the author of Edible and Medicinal Wild Plants of Britain and Ireland.

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For over fifteen years I have experimented and explored the world of wild plants. Uncovering how our ancestors used plants to nourish and heal themselves.

I’ve spent thousands of hours digging through scientific papers, read hundreds of books. Even gone so far as to be nomadic for over a year. During this time I followed the seasons and plants around the highways and byways of these isles.

I have written this book to help you rediscover our forgotten plant heritage. To learn how to use wild plants as food and medicine. Knowledge that was once common to everyone. Click here to learn more.

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  1. Lovely, thanks for the fascinating information and the delicious recipes, Robin! Young dandelion leaves are the perfect partner with cheese for a yummy granary sandwich.

  2. Lots of great research on the anti-cancer properties of Dandelion!

    Chatterjee, S. J., Ovadje, P., Mousa, M., Hamm, C., & Pandey, S. (2011). The Efficacy of Dandelion Root Extract in Inducing Apoptosis in Drug-Resistant Human Melanoma Cells. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2011, e129045. https://doi.org/10.1155/2011/129045

    News, C. (n.d.-a). Cancer-killing dandelion tea gets $157K research grant. Retrieved May 3, 2017, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/cancer-killing-dandelion-tea-gets-157k-research-grant-1.1248382

    News, C. (n.d.-b). Researcher honoured for work on anti-cancer properties of dandelions. Retrieved June 23, 2017, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/windsor-s-dandelion-tea-researcher-pamela-ovadje-recognized-for-anti-cancer-work-1.3331660

    Ovadje, P. (2014, January 1). Anticancer Activity of Natural Health Products (Dandelion Root & Long Pepper Extracts); Extensive Study Of Efficacy And Mechanism Of Action. University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario. Retrieved from http://scholar.uwindsor.ca/etd/5209

    Ovadje, P., Ammar, S., Guerrero, J.-A., Arnason, J. T., & Pandey, S. (2016). Dandelion root extract affects colorectal cancer proliferation and survival through the activation of multiple death signalling pathways. Oncotarget, 7(45), 73080–73100. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.11485

    Ovadje, P., Chatterjee, S., Griffin, C., Tran, C., Hamm, C., & Pandey, S. (2011). Selective induction of apoptosis through activation of caspase-8 in human leukemia cells (Jurkat) by dandelion root extract. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 133(1), 86–91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2010.09.005

  3. Would love to try the braised dandelion recipe BUT where on earth do I get Korean pepper flakes from? Not a fan of chilli so always keen to try any substitute that may not have as much heat

  4. I just pop a handful of flowers into a mug of boiling water for a couple of minutes to make a tea. Any longer spoils the flavour.


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