FREE DANDELIONS at Vermont State Parks!

Spring is a wonderful time of year: we’re reminded once again that color exists in the world, that one day soon we won’t even need a sweater outside, and that diving into a lake will soon be possible without personal injury.

Spring also brings a fresh onslaught of what many gardeners label a horror, a pestilence, and a darn tough weed…dandelions. Dandelions are just about everywhere, covering every field in our lovely Vermont State Parks, and most likely your yard. What you might not know is that Dandelions aren’t actually indigenous—they were brought over from Europe and Asia specifically for their medicinal benefits.  So before you try and rip them all up or spray them with dandy-killer, there are several alternatives that you can consider, all of which provide numerous health benefits

Eat Your Vegetables

Dandelion greens have been a long-time summer salad accent, and at 25 calories per cup, they pack a serious punch of vitamins and minerals. They provide over 100% of your Vitamin A requirement, 30% of your Vitamin C, and 10% Calcium and Iron. They’re a great source of Vitamin B6 and K as well, and contain more protein than spinach. They also contain significant amounts of copper, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium—all the good stuff. Since the greens can be slightly bitter by themselves, they are great in smoothies alongside sweeter fruits such as banana, strawberry, or mango! Here's a recipe you might try for your first go-round with dandelion greens.

Pick Some Flowers

Dandelion flowers have long been used as liver cleansers since they contain high levels of Luteolin and Lecithin. Plants rich in these flavonoids have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to treat diseases such as hypertension, inflammatory disorders, and cancer.  And just think, they’ve been sitting in your backyard just wasting away! I took it upon myself to clean up my lawn the other day, and experimented with dandelion fritters—basically little pancakes with dandelion flowers in them. They were delicious, and the whole process was so easy:
1. Pick the flowers
2. Cut off the stem and pluck the downward-facing greens from the base of the flower
3. Wash them
4. Dunk them in your homemade batter (flour, milk, egg, baking soda, and seasoning of your choice)
5. Pan fry
6. Eat the entire pan of them in one sitting

 Milk Them for All They’re Worth

Dandelion stalks produce sap generally referred to as dandelion milk, which is both antimicrobial and antifungal, which makes it a great remedy for skin conditions.  The sap itself can be applied to and reduce the symptoms of itches, ringworm, eczema, and acne. I found this cool recipe for a light moisturizer that only uses dandelions and coconut oil: if anybody tries it, please let us know how it goes!

 So there you have it—dandelions are useful for more than pretty flower crowns and exercising with a weed-whacker. This is a great site if you’re looking for more ideas AND you’re in luck: the Vermont State Parks are offering FREE DANDELIONS with purchase of day admission in any of our 52 locations! Just remember that the bees need them too, so please leave two dandelions for each one you pick. Trust me, there are enough to go around.

Happy Picking! 

By Carlie Timbie
Vermont State Parks


  1. That looks good. I never knew of incorporating Dandelion into diet. Next Spring, I will have to visit one of the Vermont State Parks during spring to get some of those FREE Dandelions.


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