We have the idea that a yard should be weed-free to be acceptable. It was never normal to see dandelions in the yard. That was never because there were no dandelions. That was because dandelions were so treasured, they were harvested and use almost before they blossomed.
In the past, the first greens of sprig were important. After months of preserved foods, fresh was healthy, nutritious, and eagerly sought. dandelion greens went into soups and salads and teas. Full of vitamins and minerals and fiber, dandelion greens nourished the winter weary soul.
Dandelion root was also valued. It is one of the most important liver tonics available.
What boggles my mind in this modern culture is watching people dump poison on their lawn to eradicate dandelions. The poisons are in the environment, and get into the water. They damage our livers. Then we need dandelions to tone and restore the liver.
All parts of the dandelion are edible. My favorite is the root. I dig a nice straight taproot, bring it in, scrub it, and put it in a quart jar. I cover with boiling water, then drink that the next day. It is bitter - but a healing bitter.
Dandelion is a great teacher. It is generous and accessible. When I first began learning the herbs, back in the mid-70s, I read herbals, made lists of what I wanted to try. Then I walked to the health food store and admired all the jars of magic. I would buy scoops of what I wanted to learn about and take them home to experiment. One day I was on my way home with my bag of goodies, and was watching the sidewalk as I walked. I noticed a dandelion, flowering as it pushed its way through a crack in the sidewalk. I was impressed with its strength. Then a little niggling in my brain...this plant pushing into the sunshine was the same as what I had in a little plastic bag.
I had always thought that there was something mysterious about herbs, but dandelion gave me confidence. I dug some, picked some, experimented. I became part of the mystery!