where to find, how to choose and recipe ideas


Dandelions are strong in more ways than one; they are hardy, grow everywhere, and the leaves have a zealous, bitter bite. Yet their sunny yellow petals have a more delicate flavor – light and floral with just a hint of bitterness – and their invaluable nutritional value is often overlooked.

To the children, I present them as the plant A, B, C, E (name their vitamins) or the dent de lion plant (Lion tooth) due to the shape of their toothed leaves. I don’t mention their iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium content, although I know they will still benefit.

Native to Europe and Asia as well as parts of North and South America, North Africa and Australasia, they have now been widely introduced around the world. These common plants have the reputation of being diuretics, hence their French name: dandelion. However, dandelions are actually a very mild diuretic and any potential nutritional loss is countered by their high mineral content, especially potassium.

Even their bitterness has value, signifying Dandelion’s natural detoxifying abilities and acting as an essential partner in creating that beloved flavor: bittersweet. But don’t just use what’s above ground; in the winter, dandelion roots can be dug up and roasted to create warm, comforting desserts.

How to identify dandelions

Grows up to 35cm tall with hollow, branchless stems filled with a milky sap. The leaves are deeply toothed and grow from the base of the plant. The yellow flowers turn into white, fluffy “clocks” when they turn into seeds.

When is the best time to look for dandelions?

The leaves grow throughout the year, but are best in the spring. Flowers appear and are most abundant in late spring, but may continue well into fall.

Where to look for dandelions

Dandelions are extremely easily found in sunny areas, gardens, growing between sidewalks, in parks, grassy fields and roadsides.

How to pick dandelions

Pluck the yellow leaves and flowers; the flowers close overnight but open again each morning (unless they have started to go to seed).

Dandelion Recipe Ideas

Dandelion and rum cake

Learn how to make Rachel Lambert’s aromatic sponge cake flavored with picked dandelion flowers and rum.

Dandelion Rum Cake Recipe Wild & Sweet. 1 credit: Elliot White

Check out other delicious cake recipes, including gluten-free upside-down pear cake and wild blackberry rosewater cake.

Dandelion petal syrup

Rachel Lambert shares her recipe for a fresh, fragrant syrup made from picked dandelion flowers.

Filled dandelions

Dandelion petal syrup recipe Wild & Sweet. 1 credit: Elliot White

Check out other syrup recipes, including elderberry syrup and rhubarb and cleaver spring reviver.

Rachel Lambert is the author of Wild & Sweet (Hoxton Mini Press, £25), with photographs by Elliot White.

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