Fun Facts about Dandelions with Craft & Recipe Round-Up


This week is National Wildflower Week! The other day I shared a post on Facebook about dandelions. A friend had posted it and I assumed it was true but wanted to know for sure. I decided to investigate the common wildflower, dandelions, and wow, what an interesting plant. First, did you know dandelions are in the same family as the sunflower and aster? Whether you see wishes, food or weeds, there is something here for you including where they came from, how to harvest them and how to rid your yard of them if you really want to (fun fact 11).

Happy Wildflower Week!

Fun Facts about Dandelions

  1. Developed in Eurasia and spread by the melting of the ice.
  2. Dandelions were well known to ancient Egyptians, Greeks & Romans. They have been used in Chinese traditional medicine for over a thousand years (as early as the 7th century). They were probably brought on purpose to North America on the Mayflower. Dandelions traveled everywhere with people. It has been used by almost every culture as a medicine.
  3. The name dandelion comes from the idea that the leaves look like a lion’s tooth or the flower looks like a mane.

  4. They populate every continent except Antarctica, though I saw one place where it said there were some in Antarctica.
  5. A single plant can produce 5,000 seeds per year.
  6. Dandelions were a common and beloved garden flower in Europe. In Japan whole societies are formed to enjoy the beauty of dandelions and to develop new varieties.
  7. Dandelions actually fertilize your lawn! Their roots loosen hard-packed soil and pull nutrients from deep down and shares them with other plants.
  8. Dandelions are fast growers and long lived. The root clones and when divided can grow a whole new dandelion. A whole new dandelion plant can grow from just one inch of root.
  9. Dandelion leaves can shove their way through gravel and cement.
  10. Dandelions are the most important first nectar and pollen sources for beneficial insects.
  11. Dandelions love sun!! If you grow your grass 3-4 inches higher the shade will help keep dandelions from growing. Or do not bag your lawn clippings. The clippings will work like a mulch for your yard and promote healthy lawn growth as well as inhibit the germination of dandelion seeds.
  12. Dandelions indicate the soil is packed. They indicate that your soil is calcium deficient. The roots pump the calcium into the leaves and stem. If you mow and leave the clippings the leaves will bring the calcium into your soil. Dandelions will grow in acidity soil. The dandelions will neutralize the soil naturally for you. Once dandelions have done their job they will go away or reduce.
  13. If there is too much shade for grass the dandelion will come in. Grass needs at least 8 hours of sunlight. Dandelions do not.
  14. The position of the leaves of a dandelion plant tells you where they are in their job. If they are open and close to ground, they are in the beginning or middle of the process. When the leaves are closed or pointing up they are at the end of their job.
  15. Dandelions have been used medicinally for centuries. They have been prescribed for everything from warts to the plague and cancer.
  16. Dandelions are more nutritious than most vegetables. They have more vitamin A than spinach, more vitamin C than tomatoes, and also have a good amount of iron, calcium and potassium as well as vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, magnesium and some small amounts of other B vitamins. Dandelion root has prebiotic carbohydrate inulin which is a soluble fiber that helps maintain a healthy intestinal tract. They also contain high levels of the antioxidant beta-carotene and polyphenols. The highest concentration of the polyphenols are in the flowers.
  17. Dandelion tea is a diuretic. It will increase urine output so it is great when feeling bloated.
  18. Dandelions may help reduce inflammation, aid in blood sugar control, reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure (thanks to their diuretic effect), promote a healthy liver, aid in weight loss, fight cancer, support healthy digestion, treat constipation, boost your immune system, be a useful skincare treatment, help with eye problems, and support healthy bones. All of these need to be studied further but there are signs that they may be true. When paired with uva ursi, an herb, dandelion roots and leaves may help prevent urinary tract infections.
  19. Dandelion products are very expensive. The roots are dried and sold as a caffeine-free coffee or tea substitute. Dandelion root can also be eaten in its whole form. The leaves and flowers can also be eaten.
  20. It was used as a source of rubber for small amounts during World War II.
  21. The stems can cause nausea for some people.


Ok, so now that you know how amazing the plant is what do we do with them? Well the first thing is harvest them. I watched this video on harvesting and recipes. I also heard you should harvest the leaves in early spring before they plants have flowers and then again in the fall. I am assuming the same would be true of the roots. From the video I decided to try dandelion mint iced tea. I don't have lemon verbena so I only used dandelion flowers and mint both from my yard. We do not spray pesticides so I knew the plants in my yard were safe.

I also did not use as many dandelion flowers as she did because we don't have that many dandelions. All three of us tasted it. Everyone thought it was ok but no one loved it. Hazel didn't drink her small sample of it besides the first sip. Steve drank his small glass but wouldn't want more. I drank mine and had the large glass the next day. I used local honey in it (and used quite a bit) so it wasn't too bitter. I think I would use more mint next time. 

I did find other recipes including fried dandelion flowers, dandelion jam, and dandelion tea. Plus I found these books that include recipes and other uses plus a teen/adult book about dandelions. I haven't checked any of these out yet.

Now kids have already known the joy dandelions bring to life. However if you want to teach them even more or read fun stories featuring them, check out these books. Again I have not read any of these books so it is just a guide for you.

I also wanted to try a craft to go with my dandelions. Now a few years ago I saw this painting at Muse Paintbar. I thought it would be a neat painting for tweens and teens--perhaps a birthday party. I don't know who painted it and the instructor said it was not one of the regular class paintings. She gave me suggestions for how to make the flowers. 

I decided to play a bit. I tried different strategies. I used brushes, index cards, and cotton swabs.

Now I forgot that the complete circle was there. I later tried to create those and have to say it is much harder. First you need to have very little paint but enough paint to make the circle. I gave up. I decided what I liked best was a short index card. (I cut up some of Hazel's old multiplication flashcards, so they are recycled.) I found cutting them the short way worked better than the long way. It gives more control. You dip it into a dish of paint.

Next you hold it vertical on the paper and make a stripe. Then lift one end and twist slightly.

You continue the lift and twist until you have enough lines to be your circle.

As you can see from my messy attempt you want to make sure you do not have too much paint on it. The final step is to use the tip of a paintbrush--the back tip not the brush part to make the dots around the circle. Now had I looked at the painting before doing this I would also add a black dot to the flower center.

You can also add dots as well as stripes to represent the seeds blowing in the wind. Then add stems.

After making the painting I wanted to make yellow dandelions. I used the brushes for this. You want a stiff flat brush. Again you hold it vertical and try to spin it to make circles. Then I added green stems and leaves.

I tried to do both of these paintings in ways younger kids could do them. For the older kids I would try to replicate the painting from Muse. I also asked fellow bloggers for some of their dandelion crafts, lessons, and recipes. Here is what people shared with me.

1) Dandelion Fork Art from 123 Homeschool for Me
2) Dandelion Paper Plate Craft from A Little Pinch of Perfect
3) Dandelion Unit Study from Proverbial Homemaker
4) Kid-Made Dandelion Vases from A Little Pinch of Perfect

For even more ideas be sure to check out the Dandelion section of my Wildflower Pinterest Board! Happy Spring!