Dandelions are considered a safe plant with all parts edible except for the stem. The stem contains a milky latex sap that causes dermatitis upon contact. Even so, its toxicity is extremely low even if the stem is consumed by children. Dandelions are fast-spreading perennial which is considered weeds by many. The most concerning thing about it is when the patch is sprayed with herbicides and eaten by toddlers.
Dandelions are herbaceous plants with irregular leaves and disk-shaped flowers.
In spring and fall, they grow yellow to orange bloom, which gives way to a puffball kind of seed head.
Blowing the seed heads to disperse the fluff can be a fun activity. But, dandelion pollens and its feathery seeds may risk hay fever in persons with sensitivity to them.
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Are dandelions poisonous?
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is an invasive plant, often considered an annoying weed.
Despite being a garden nuisance, dandelion is an edible plant eaten raw or cooked. It’s prepared in various ways, such as adding its tender green leaves and blossoms to salads.
Its roots are steeped and consumed as a coffee substitute. The young leaves are also eaten like spinach or chopped and used as a garnish in place of chives.
In ancient apothecaries, dandelion is also valued for its healing properties.
It is best used against liver diseases, hepatitis, and jaundice, as well as gastrointestinal problems.
Dandelion is an effective diuretic that flushes away toxins from the body through sweat and urine. There are different ways of preparing dandelions as medicine, such as tea, tincture, or liquid extract.
What part of the dandelion is toxic?
Every part of the dandelion carries medicinal benefits. All except its stem, which is rated to have low toxicity.
📌 The hollow stem of the dandelions excretes a milky sap or latex that contains taraxinic acid. Taraxinic acid has a cytotoxic activity or is moderately able to damage cells. Touching a dandelion may cause an allergic reaction. If your toddler happens to eat a dandelion stem, there is a small chance for the child to develop mouth sores.
Overconsumption of dandelion can also increase stomach acid and cause tummy issues and heartburn.
Other potential dangers of dandelion
While dandelion, in general, does not pose a serious threat, certain situations associated with it may do.
Once the dandelion establishes itself in the garden, the plant is hard to eradicate. They spread through their numerous seeds and can easily overwhelm other plants.
The most viable way of removing them is through weeding, removing the entire taproot.
To cut through the process, gardeners and homeowners may spray herbicide or brush killer. This is where the problem can stem from.
Weed killers contain harmful chemicals that are hazardous to humans and animals. The chemicals cannot be removed by watering or washing the plant.
If your child ingests what you believe is a contaminated dandelion, call the poison center immediately if symptoms show up.
Tips for keeping your toddler safe
Toddlers are naturally curious as they try to explore the environment around them.
Beginning at six months, their sensory abilities develop. It is around that time when they take more information through their mouth or the oral exploration stage. In fact, they will be using their sense of taste more than the other senses.
Letting your toddler loose is expecting them to try “eating” all weird and inedible things. The only way to keep them safe is never to take your eyes off them, no matter what.
1. Supervise toddlers when playing outdoors
Incidents and accidents are just around the corner. If you have a curious toddler, things can happen in a blink.
As general accident prevention, do not leave your child playing unattended. When they are playing outdoors, keep an eye on their activities.
Your little one plucking to taste a dandelion in your yard is something you can brush off. But only do so if you know and are sure that the plants are free from harmful chemicals.
Choking on small objects is a more likely incident in unsupervised child play.
2. Teach toddlers about dandelions and their safety
If you are a parent to a toddler, frantic yelling to put something down can become a daily routine.
The exploration stage is the best time for parents to educate children about the way of the world. Satisfy their natural curiosity by explaining the things they get their hands on.
Take this chance to talk to your child, going over the things he can and cannot eat. Tell your child that while the plant is a good vegetable, we do not eat them without washing and cooking.
It is not a guarantee he will grasp the essence of things at once. But through repetitions and reminders, your little one will surely catch up.
3. Safely eliminate dandelions in the yard
Dandelions may be beautiful and useful as an ornament, vegetable, or medicinal plant. But in all fairness, the plant can be a nuisance, especially when it is re-seeding.
If a family member is allergic to ragweed, marigold, chrysanthemum, and daisy family, it can become more problematic.
Broadleaf herbicides are the most effective and efficient way of dealing with dandelions.
Unfortunately, this is also dangerous if you have pets and children around. The chemicals can stay in the ground for up to about three years or more before breaking down.
Pulling dandelion roots, cutting them before flowering, or dousing them with water may help solve the problem naturally.
Spraying vinegar on the dandelion may also curb its growth but is not effective in established plants.
To prevent dandelion from growing in your yard in the first place, do the following tricks:
- Fertilize turfs to help them grow a dense root system where dandelions cannot flourish.
- Mulch the plant to prevent dandelion seeds from germinating on the soil surface.
- Keep your garden grass tall and mow them high to deprive dandelion leaves of sunlight.
Are dandelions toxic to pets?
No, dandelions do not pose a poison threat to animals. Dogs and cats can eat the plant parts without any problem.
Does eating dandelions cause any long-term health problems?
Eating dandelions will not cause long-term health problems. People with allergic reactions to dandelion may experience stomach discomfort, diarrhea, or heartburn.
What are the signs of dandelion poisoning?
The risk of dandelion poisoning is extremely low, but overconsumption of its leaves can cause oxalate poisoning. In addition to short-term illnesses like stomach problems and heartburn, mouth and throat irritation may also occur.
Dandelion, when taken by toddlers, is safe when the plant is not subjected to chemical pollution like herbicides.
Any person might develop mild irritation if they are allergic to its chemical compound. Its safety in pregnant and breastfeeding moms is not yet established, so avoiding the dandelion is a safe choice.
If your child ingested dandelions, there is nothing you can do about it but educate him on its safety. If your child experience confusion, dizziness, increased salivation, stomach cramping, or muscle twitching, contact the nearest poison center.
Weed killer exposure is not as harmful as pesticides and other chemicals. In case of ingestion, healthcare providers may perform laboratory tests and provide breathing support when needed. Intravenous fluids and medicine to reverse the poison symptom will also be administered.
Generally, not just with dandelions, prepare fruit and vegetables cautiously before consuming them.
You are not sure where the produce comes from and what they had been through. Put them in the strainer and under running water to remove residues that might be clinging to the surface.