For centuries, dandelion has been embraced by herbalists and natural living enthusiasts to treat everything from liver problems to digestive issues.

Every part of this healing weed is edible – from the blossoms and leaves right down to the oft forgotten roots. However, it’s these deep roots that contain so many of the plant’s health benefits. Not only are they a rich source of vitamins A, B, C and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium and zinc; but the bitter substances in these tubers also aid in detoxification and liver stimulation.

Keep reading to discover how to harvest and use dandelion roots for better health and vitality.

Harvesting Dandelion Roots

For medicinal purposes, dandelion roots are best harvested in fall – particularly after a heavy rain, which serves to loosen the soil around the roots. Dandelion roots grow deep – up to one foot in length. It’s these tough, long roots that are responsible for the plant’s high levels of nutrients – the dandelion can reach deeper into the rich soil than other plants can for nourishment. This is also why they are a little difficult to harvest but, by following the below steps, you’ll soon be reaping the benefits of dandelion root.

Harvesting in fall also means that the levels of the insoluble fiber inulin will be higher, while fructose (sugar) levels will be lower. On the other hand, if you require the roots for culinary purposes, spring roots (before the plants blossom) are best. At this time of the year, they will contain less fiber and are less bitter and chewy. Spring roots are also higher in taraxacin, the substance in dandelions which stimulates bile production and aids liver function.

Because dandelion is a potent detoxifier, you should gather dandelion away from busy roads and other polluted areas, ensuring the plants haven’t been treated with chemicals.

Now that you know when and where to harvest dandelions, let’s look at how to do it.

  1. Choose the largest and most vigorous plants, leaving smaller dandelions alone. Not only do these have small roots but they are excellent food for bees, beetles and birds.
  2. Using a garden fork, gently work through the moist soil, being careful not to break or damage the root – the medicinal properties lie within the precious sap, housed inside these tough tubers.
  3. Once you have released the entire root from the ground, gently shake it to remove excess soil and scrub it thoroughly until clean. It’s now ready to use immediately or preserve.

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