KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Some mow them down in pursuit of a kept lawn, others make wishes with them after their blooms have transformed. But did you know the Taraxacum officinale, or commonly known as the dandelion, is a fully edible, nutritious plant? The University of Tennessee Gardens at Knoxville shared some insight on the flowering plant, as the puffy yellow gems have been cropping up lately amid spring in East Tennessee.
“Who would want a yard of weeds? Someone who values a fully edible and nutritious plant, that’s who,” UT Gardens posted to its social media on Tuesday. “Many regarded dandelions as healthy and tasty food, and tonic, among spring’s earliest greens.”
“Today, science confirms that a 2014 study listed dandelions as one of the forty-one top superfoods we can eat. Compared to spinach alone, dandelion leaves have been cited as having eight times more antioxidants, two times more calcium, three times more vitamin A, and five times more vitamin K and vitamin E. Is your yard filled with dandelions? Don’t despair!”
UT Gardens’ upcoming edition of its magazine, “Cultivate,” will soon be released to those who hold memberships and among its pages of gardening research and education will be a recipe for dandelion ice cream. Tuesday’s social media post was written by Margeaux Emory, UTIA Senior Writer and “Cultivate” contributor who highlighted dandelions.
The gardens are part of the UT Institute of Agriculture. UT Gardens, or the State Botanical Garden of Tennessee, offers locations in Knoxville, Crossville and Jackson, Tenn. According to UTIA’s website on the UT Gardens, each site showcases the latest research and education in horticulture and provides visitors with outstanding green spaces to learn, play, explore and relax.
Dandelions are among the first to bloom in the spring, announcing the season and upcoming summer in a few months’ time, which is great for pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies that need its pollen and nectar. However, herbal experts say it’s best to leave dandelions alone until the end of May.