Dandelions are a perennial plant with hundreds of varieties. The plant can grow up to 12 inches high and has elongated, lance-like leaves and bright yellow blooms. Typically considered a weed or nuisance plant, dandelions are actually an often-overlooked food source. All parts of the dandelion plant are edible, including the flowers.
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The flower of a dandelion plant is usually 1 to 2 inches wide at maturation and has a bittersweet flavor. You can use the flowers to make wine or eat them as they are. Consume only the yellow parts, because the green sepals at the base of the bloom taste bitter. Environmental educator Steve Brill states the flowers are best harvested in mid-spring, but they can be used until fall. He recommends adding the blossoms to salads for taste and aesthetic variation but suggests you can also fry, saute or even pickle dandelion flowers. The dandelion flowers should be free of pesticides, states "Backwoods Home Magazine," adding that yard dandelions might not be as tasty as wild varieties, because they are cut too frequently.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, dandelion flowers have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants might help counter the damage caused by free radicals, which are naturally occurring compounds in the body that destroy cells and contribute to cancer. The greens of the dandelion plant are also edible raw or cooked, and contain vitamins A, B and C, along with potassium and iron.