I've decided to switch things up a bit for this month's blog posting. Instead of highlighting all the wonderful things our students accomplished this month, we will be focusing on one lesson in particular: "Rediscovering and Appreciating Dandelions"
Taraxacum officinale, also known as Dandelion or "Lion's tooth," is a plant that can be found in many gardens and yards around our Island during the spring and summer months. While many gardeners consider this plant a pesky weed, we wanted our students to walk away with a new understanding and appreciation of this pervasive plant. So, each class had a full day to examine the plant's life cycle and medicinal properties.
Underneath the large maple tree in our school yard, there is a large patch of dandelions. Some have a bright yellow flower emerging from the stalk and some have delicate white feather-like bristles that float away with a strong burst of wind. We identified the plant by noting the shape of it's leaves, the color of the flower, the number of flowers on each stalk, the hairless leaves, etc. (There are a few other plants that can be mistaken for Dandelions! Use credible plant identification sources when wildcrafting and make sure the grow-area is free of chemicals.)
We learned that the yellow flowers are edible, the dried roots can be roasted to create an herbal coffee drink (courtesy of Mountain Rose Herbs), the leaves can be dressed up in a salad, and the plant acts as a powerful medicine for the liver. As we drank dandelion root and leaf tea from handmade tea cups, we described the flavors we were smelling and tasting. To conclude our day's lesson, we discussed how the plant's seeds travel with the wind.