There are several definitions of the word weed. One definition in the dictionary is “a plant that is not valued where it is growing.”
My own personal definition is “a plant out of place.” Examples would be corn growing in a bean field or maple seedlings sprouting up in your yard. If you ask people on the street to name the first weed that came to mind, I am sure the answer would be Taraxacum officinale or the common dandelion. In your yard, a dandelion is that plant out of place or a weed.
Homeowners around the country spend millions of dollars each year trying to eradicate this perennial plant out of their bluegrass lawns when in fact they could just go out and harvest them for a garden or should I say garden fresh salad. All parts of the dandelion are edible. The roots can be dug and dried for tea, the flowers can be used in winemaking and the leaves can be used fresh in a salad or cooked as greens.
The fresh young leaves are not only tasty but they are good for you. One cup of fresh greens has only 25 calories, only 5 carbs, no fat and no cholesterol. The fiber content is 1.9 grams and potassium is 218 mg. The leaves also contain (of the daily requirements) 10 percent calcium, 9 percent iron, 11 percent vitamin A, and 32 percent vitamin C.
Medicinally, dandelion leaves are no cure-all, but it has been found that they are good for liver and kidney problems.
The best leaves are new tender growth. Make sure the yard has not been chemically treated. Wash the leaves and mix in with spinach and lettuce greens for a tasty and healthy fresh salad. The leaves will get a little tougher and bitter as the weather warms up. Stop harvesting during the summer months. In the fall when weather is cooler, new growth will again be tender and mild.