Gentian + Dandelion

 Here are two of Kingdom Plantae's most prized bitter plants.  Gentian, a true mountain lover, found high in the Alps of Europe and mountainous regions of central and southern Europe from Spain to the Balkans.  And Dandelion, a beloved medicinal plant appreciated by all herbalists.   The word Dandelion is derived from French language. Dent de lion , or lion's tooth, describes the jagged shape it's leaves. 

GentianGentiana lutea

Habitat: Native to the mountains of Europe.  Cultivated in the NW United States and Canada.  Found in high elevation bogs and wet pastures and meadows 3,000-8,000ft.  Due to overharvesting, G. lutea is considered threatened, purchase only cultivated root.

Description:  Root can be 1-2' long and 1-2" thick.  Erect growth up to 6' tall with star shaped yellow flowers and opposite, oval leaves.  Leaves are smooth and waxy.  Fruit is a two-valved capsule with an oblong shape. 

Part Used: Root.  Harvested in fall.

Actions:  Bitter, digestive stimulant, cooling

Medicinal Uses: Bitter tonic, Liver/Gallbladder stimulant, appetite stimulant, improves digestion, absorption of nutrients, iron deficiency anemia

Preparations: Tincture: take 2-5 drops to stimulate appetite or improve sluggish digestion.  Decoction: take 1oz as needed

Precautions:  Avoid if pregnant and during lactation.  Not recommended for children. Over consumption can cause headache and vomiting.

Dandelion   Taraxacum officinale

Habitat:  Pretty much everywhere

Description:  Perennial growing to 20" with ragged, toothed basal leaves, hollow stalks.  Leaves spring directly from the root. Yellow flowers that close in the evening.  Taproot is white on the inside and dark on the outside. 

Part Used: Leaf, Root

Action: Diuretic, detoxifying, bitter

Constituents: Leaves are high in Vitamin A, B, C and K, potassium, and iron.  Leaves also contain coumarins.  Roots contain Taraxacoside, Phenolic acids, and are high in potassium and calcium

Medicinal Uses: Leaves are a powerful diuretic to help the kidneys detoxify, fluid retention in the body, and to treat high blood pressure.  Encourages elimination of toxins such as pollution, infection and waste products.  Considered a blood builder.  The root is stimulating for the liver and gallbladder.  Due to its influence on the liver, Dandelion is also beneficial for skin problems such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis. 

Preparations: Tincture or Decoction of Root.  Infusion or Juice of Leaves. 

Precautions:  May decrease absorption of antibiotics.  May aggravate stomach ulcers and heartburn. Possible interaction with blood thinners.  Consult with physician or clinical herbalist.

Culinary Uses: Younger, tender leaves can be added to salads.  Larger, older leaves can be boiled down (save the water to drink). 

Fried Dandelion Flowers

Fried dandelion flowers taste similar to morel mushrooms. They’re very tasty!

Ingredients:

  • dandelion blossoms with green base and stems removed (leave enough of the base on to hold the flower together)
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Soak the dandelion flowers in a bowl of cool salt water to remove any bugs or debris. After they’ve soaked for around 1/2 hour, take them out of the water and gently blot the excess moisture away.
  2. Heat enough oil to fry the dandelions you have.
  3. While the oil is heating, make a batter using the milk, salt, egg and flour. Dip each flower into the batter, and toss it into the oil once it’s popping hot. Fry until they’re lightly browned.
  4. Use a paper towel to gently blot away excess grease, and serve immediately. Yum!