What is the History of Dandelions?

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In my herbal class/group we are studying the beleaguered dandelion. The yellow flowers that turn to white puffballs children love to make wishes on as they blow. Considered a weed by most, it is actually an extremely beneficial plant. The history of dandelions is quite interesting.

The latin name for dandelion is Taraxacum officinale. It translates to official healing herb for disorders. (Taraxos meaning “disorder”, and officinale meaning “official”.) Sounds like something everyone would want. So, how did the dandelion go from healing herb to weed?

history of the dandelion a wish

From Herb to Weed

The history of dandelions goes back thousands of years. The transfer from healing herb to weed, only started a few hundred years ago. Before colonists came to America, the dandelion was commonly used as a source of food and medicine. As landowners looked for ways to show off their wealth, they began to create beautiful gardens and lawns. Dandelions were weeded out, so to prove the owner was so wealthy they had no need to grow their own food or medicine.

When colonists came to America, they too used dandelions for food and medicine. As some began to grow wealthy, they adopted the views of their european counterparts. Dandelions were for the poor and undesirable by those of wealth.

Reversal of Fate

During the great depression many turned back to dandelions for healing and to fend off starvation. Later, as people began to recover their wealth, the lowly dandelion was again shunned. Those of means, could buy food and medicines and didn’t need to grow their own.

With the advent of WWII, everyone was urged to grow their own food. They called these victory gardens. For a short time, dandelions were once again desirable.

After the war, the economy started to ramp up. Many middle class women joined the workforce for extra money. (Side note: Poor women have always worked to help provide for themselves and their families.) As wealth increased, the dandelion got weeded out.

If you’d like to know more about dandelions and their uses, or herbalism in general, I recommend Heidi Villegas at http://www.healingharvesthomestead.com.

To order some dandelion seeds of your own, check out these finds at amazon. https://amzn.to/2Khxt8G

Final interesting note. The dandelion is the official flower of the military child. Wherever the wind blows, they land and thrive.

FTC Disclosure: There may be affiliate links scattered here and there throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Nicole Crosby
  • Nicole Crosby
  • New homesteaders, Nicole and Michael want to share their journey and pass on all the info they will learn along the way to help other homesteaders.


  • I found this very interesting and really enjoyed reading about it.

  • very interesting will read more

  • I love dandelions! They’re beautiful, they’re fun, they’re edible, and the animals love them! Not to mention… you can make jelly with them!

    • You are so right! I will definitely have to try the jelly. I bet it will be amazing.

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