When I was a girl, I picked dandelion tops and practiced weaving them to adorn my summer skin. The rural farmlands of Pennsylvania were spotted green and yellow as early as March, offering dandelion as one of the first flowers of the season.
Here in Portland, spring is rising and the dandelions have appeared. This week I noticed a small pile of them sitting on the sidewalk, purposefully plucked out of a garden to make way for fresh mulch and tulips. I wondered if a child collected them to build a fairy house or if they were simply awaiting a toss in the compost bin.
Here why I say dandelion's are not weeds and lets keep em' around!
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), is named after dent de lion, meaning lion’s tooth, which refers to its toothed leaves. I love the imagery of this, and how it attests to the resilient yet lovely features of the plant. In spring, it is one of the earliest flowers to emerge and will continue until late fall, making it one of the most available plants of the season for many uses:
- young leaves are edible and high in vitamins and minerals that nourish the body
- dried roots steeped in a tea make an excellent detoxifying drink after a sluggish winter
- the flowering tops are high in vitamins C, E and are antioxidant with anti-aging properties
- they are considered a medicinal herb and have been largely used for health benefits
- bees, beetles, butterflies and birds all rely on dandelion as a food source, especially in urban environments
I wanted to share my favorite spring tradition to honor the medicinal and wild dandelion and inspire some creative and beneficial uses.
Wildflower Beauty Oil Recipe
- 1 cup avocado oil / or any carrier oil of choice ( here is where I get mine)
- 1-2 cups dandelion flower tops
- 8 oz glass jar with air tight lid
- strainer or cheesecloth
- brown paper bag
1. WILDCRAFT DANDELION
In early spring when the dandelion's have sprung, take a walk with your scissors and paper bag. Once you find a plentiful patch of dandelion flowers, check the area to make sure it has not been treated with pesticides or is in someone's private yard or forestry preserve. I like to ask permission of the plants if I can use them for beauty, healing and medicine before picking. If you get a funny, guilty or strange feeling after asking the question, keep searching. There is probably a reason these plants don't want to work with you. Trust your intuition and knowing. Part of working with plants and the earth is to be connected and stay tuned in with the needs of nature as well as ourselves.
Once you find the perfect patch, snip the flower heads off and into your paper bag. Dandelion's have a white, latex-like milk in their stems which can irritate some skin types so be cautious of this. Collect only a few dandelion flowers from each part of the patch; you always want to leave enough plants for the pollinators and the plant's propagation process.
After collecting 1-2 cups of fresh flowers, thank the flowers for their offering and return home.
Next, lightly rinse the flower tops at home under fresh water. Give them a gentle shake and then place them upon a brown paper bag cut open flat. Make sure the flower tops are not clumped all together or touching so they can thoroughly dry. The best environment is a cool, dry space with good air ventilation. Let the flowers sit for up to 24 hours. When you give the flowers a squeeze, they should not feel wet inside and the petals should be able to pull apart easily.
Grab your 8 oz glass jar. Check to see that it is clean and dry inside. After all the trouble of drying the flowers, you don't want to wet them. (be cautious--water is a sure way to introduce bacteria or mold into your jar when working with organic matter).
Sprinkle the dried dandelion flower tops into your jar. You want the jar to be half full, maybe a bit more. The dandelion flowers probably shrunk down as they dried but will expand again once infusing in carrier oil.
Choose your carrier oil to cover your dried dandelion flowers. (I enjoy cold pressed avocado oil, especially pressed for cosmetic use. It is high in vitamins that help dry skin). Pour your carrier oil into your jar, covering all of the flowers but leaving about a centimeter of space at the top of your jar to prevent overflow or leakage. Cap your jar tightly, label with the date and ingredients and shake to mix all the flowers and oil together.
Allow this to sit in a sunny window for 4-6 weeks. The solar rays will infuse the oil with the medicinal qualities of the dandelion flower over time. Remember to shake your infusion daily and send some good vibes to your creation. Do not open your bottle while it is infusing. It is best and most pure when undisturbed during this process.
After 4-6 weeks have passed and your oil has been infused, open your jar to strain your oil. Cut a 4x4 inch square of cheesecloth or use a mesh tea strainer to pour your oil through into a jar. You can strain it multiple times if you want to get every tiny piece of dandelion particle out of your oil.
Once your oil is strained, compost the dandelion flowers and cap your herbal infused oil in a fresh new jar. You can use this as a facial serum, body oil, cuticle oil, hair treatment or a base for making salves or lip balms.
This will last up to 6 months if kept cool and dry. Store in the refrigerator for extended shelf life for up to a year.