Taraxacum officinale

Other Names: Pee in the Bed, Lions Teeth, Fairy Clock, Clock, Clock Flowers, Clocks and Watches, Farmers Clocks, Old Mans Clock, One Clock, Wetweed, Blowball, Cankerwort, Lionstooth, Priests Crown, Puffball, Swinesnout, White Endive, Wild Endive and Pissa-a-beds

History and Folklore:

The first documented use of dandelion was the Chinese in the 7th century.  It is also known that the dandelion was used by Arabic physcians in the 11th century and the Welsh by the 1300s.  Dandelions were native to Europe and Asia, where they were wide spread as a culinary and medicinal herb.  They were brought to the Americas with the some of the earliest settlers and were integrated into various cures and uses by Native American tribes. 

For folk traditions concerning the dandelion, try http://fohn.net/dandelion-pictures/folklore.html
Botanical Characteristics:

The dandelion has a thick, light brown perennial tap root that can grow up to 12 inches in length.  It produces a rosette of basal leaves from which a leafless flower stem grows.  This stem is smooth, hollow ending in a single large, sun-shine yellow flower, which opens during the day and closes at night and in the rain. The root, leaves, and stem contain a milky fluid. The flower becomes a mass of fuzzy white puffs, to which individual seeds are connected to be dispersed by the wind.

I really like this, more poetic, description of the dandelion by Mrs. Grieve…

From its thick tap root, dark brown, almost black on the outside though white and milky within, the long jagged leaves rise directly, radiating from it to form a rosette Iying close upon the ground, each leaf being grooved and constructed so that all the rain falling on it is conducted straight to the centre of the rosette and thus to the root which is, therefore, always kept well watered. The maximum amount of water is in this manner directed towards the proper region for utilization by the root, which but for this arrangement would not obtain sufficient moisture, the leaves being spread too close to the ground for the water to penetrate.
The leaves are shiny and without hairs, the margin of each leaf cut into great jagged teeth, either upright or pointing somewhat backwards, and these teeth are themselves cut here and there into lesser teeth. It is this somewhat fanciful resemblance to the canine teeth of a lion that (it is generally assumed) gives the plant its most familiar name of Dandelion, which is a corruption of the French Dent de Lion, an equivalent of this name being found not only in its former specific Latin name Dens leonis and in the Greek name for the genus to which Linnaeus assigned it, Leontodon, but also in nearly all the languages of Europe.
There is some doubt, however, as to whether it was really the shape of the leaves that provided the original notion, as there is really no similarity between them, but the leaves may perhaps be said to resemble the angular jaw of a lion fully supplied with teeth. Some authorities have suggested that the yellow flowers might be compared to the golden teeth of the heraldic lion, while others say that the whiteness of the root is the feature which provides the resemblance. Flückiger and Hanbury in Pharmacographia, say that the name was conferred by Wilhelm, a surgeon, who was so much impressed by the virtues of the plant that he likened it to Dens leonis. In the Ortus Sanitatis, 1485, under ‘Dens Leonis,’ there is a monograph of half a page (unaccompanied by any illustration) which concludes:
‘The Herb was much employed by Master Wilhelmus, a surgeon, who on account of its virtues, likened it to “eynem lewen zan, genannt zu latin Dens leonis” (a lion’s tooth, called in Latin Dens leonis).’
In the pictures of the old herbals, for instance, the one in Brunfels’ Contrafayt Kreuterbuch, 1532, the leaves very much resemble a lion’s tooth. The root is not illustrated at all in the old herbals, as only the herb was used at that time.
The name of the genus, Taraxacum, is derived from the Greek taraxos (disorder), and akos (remedy), on account of the curative action of the plant. A possible alternative derivation of Taraxacum is suggested in The Treasury of Botany:
‘The generic name is possibly derived from the Greek taraxo (“I have excited” or “caused”) and achos (pain), in allusion to the medicinal effects of the plant.’
There are many varieties of Dandelion leaves; some are deeply cut into segments, in others the segments or lobes form a much less conspicuous feature, and are sometimes almost entire.
The shining, purplish flower-stalks rise straight from the root, are leafless, smooth and hollow and bear single heads of flowers. On picking the flowers, a bitter, milky juice exudes from the broken edges of the stem, which is present throughout the plant, and which when it comes into contact with the hand, turns to a brown stain that is rather difficult to remove.
Each bloom is made up of numerous strapshaped florets of a bright golden yellow. This strap-shaped corolla is notched at the edge into five teeth, each tooth representing a petal, and lower down is narrowed into a claw-like tube, which rests on the singlechambered ovary containing a single ovule. In this tiny tube is a copious supply of nectar, which more than half fills it, and the presence of which provides the incentive for the visits of many insects, among whom the bee takes first rank. The Dandelion takes an important place among honey-producing plants, as it furnishes considerable quantities of both pollen and nectar in the early spring, when the bees’ harvest from fruit trees is nearly over. It is also important from the beekeeper’s point of view, because not only does it flower most in spring, no matter how cool the weather may be, but a small succession of bloom is also kept up until late autumn, so that it is a source of honey after the main flowers have ceased to bloom, thus delaying the need for feeding the colonies of bees with artificial food.
Many little flies also are to be found visiting the Dandelion to drink the lavishly-supplied nectar. By carefully watching, it has been ascertained that no less than ninety-three different kinds of insects are in the habit of frequenting it. The stigma grows up through the tube formed by the anthers, pushing the pollen before it, and insects smearing themselves with this pollen carry it to the stigmas of other flowers already expanded, thus insuring cross-fertilization. At the base of each flower-head is a ring of narrow, green bracts the involucre. Some of these stand up to support the florets, others hang down to form a barricade against such small insects as might crawl up the stem and injure the bloom without taking a share in its fertilization, as the winged insects do.
The blooms are very sensitive to weather conditions: in fine weather, all the parts are outstretched, but directly rain threatens the whole head closes up at once. It closes against the dews of night, by five o’clock in the evening, being prepared for its night’s sleep, opening again at seven in the morning though as this opening and closing is largely dependent upon the intensity of the light, the time differs somewhat in different latitudes and at different seasons.
When the whole head has matured, all the florets close up again within the green sheathing bracts that lie beneath, and the bloom returns very much to the appearance it had in the bud. Its shape being then somewhat reminiscent of the snout of a pig, it is termed in some districts ‘Swine’s Snout.’ The withered, yellow petals are, however soon pushed off in a bunch, as the seeds, crowned with their tufts of hair, mature, and one day, under the influence of sun and wind the ‘Swine’s Snout’ becomes a large gossamer ball, from its silky whiteness a very noticeable feature. It is made up of myriads of plumed seeds or pappus, ready to be blown off when quite ripe by the slightest breeze, and forms the ‘clock’ of the children, who by blowing at it till all the seeds are released, love to tell themselves the time of day by the number of puffs necessary to disperse every seed. When all the seeds have flown, the receptacle or disc on which they were placed remains bare, white, speckled and surrounded by merely the drooping remnants of the sheathing bracts, and we can see why the plant received another of its popular names, ‘Priest’s Crown,’ common in the Middle Ages, when a priest’s shorn head was a familiar object.

From http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/d/dandel08.html

Foraging, Storage and Preparation:

If you plan to use dandelion leaves for a culinary use, be sure to harvest in the early spring before the appearance of flowers and again in late fall after the first frost when they are the least bitter. Leaves can be refrigerated for a short time for fresh use.  They can be dried for medicinal use, use in teas, etc.  If you harvest the leaves during the summer, be prepared to boil them in at least one change of water before consumption (gets rid of the bitter taste—but also a lot of the nutrients
The flowers can be used fresh and harvested all summer long, but are easiest to harvest around mid-spring when the most plants are in bloom.  The green sepals at the flower’s base are bitter and should be removed, depending on your preferred use.
The root is best harvested in the late fall to early spring.  It can be used fresh, or dried for later use.  If the roots are large, you may want to cut them lengthwise for ease of drying.

Medicinal Properties and Uses:

Traditionally dandelion has been used by cultures worldwide for kidney disease,  skin problems, heartburn, and treat digestive disorders, appendicitis (I’d just have surgery tongue), lack of milk flow, fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea… Today, while the dandelion overall is used as a diuretic and gastro-intestinal aid, the various parts of the dandelion play different roles in herbal treatments.
Reportedly, dandelion has been tested in animals with mixed results for its use in treating high cholesterol, diabetes and cancer.  There have been no human trials using dandelion as a treatment for any of these conditions that I have been able to locate

Flower:  The flower is said to have anti-oxidant properties.  Anecdotal suggestions claim that it can be useful in topical applications for sore muscles and joints, but I have been unable to confirm this from any reputable sources.Leaves:  The leaves are reputed to have the best diuretic action (and helpful for some PMS symptoms) and have the added benefit of being a source of potassium, which many diuretics deplete.  The leaves are also used to stimulate kidney function.

Root:  Possibly induces mild laxative effects and recommended to improve digestion—a possible mechanism for this is backed up by studies suggesting that dandelion root may be beneficial to the naturally occurring bacteria in the GI tract. Studies have also reported that dandelion root may help improve liver and gallbladder function.  The root also has appetite stimulating properties and is thought to be anti-viral.


To improve digestion, adjust the recommended adult dose to account for the child’s weight. Most herbal dosages for adults are calculated on the basis of a 150 lb (70 kg) adult. Therefore, if the child weighs 50 lb (20 – 25 kg), the appropriate dose of dandelion for this child would be 1/3 of the adult dosage.

Dandelion may be used in a variety of available forms:
Dried leaf infusion: 1 – 2 teaspoonfuls, 3 times daily. Pour hot water onto dried leaf and steep for 5 – 10 minutes. Drink as directed.
Dried root decoction: 1/2 – 2 teaspoonfuls, 3 times daily. Place root into boiling water for 5 – 10 minutes. Strain and drink as directed.
Leaf tincture (1:5) in 30 % alcohol: 100 – 150 drops, 3 times daily
Standardized powdered extract (4:1) leaf: 500 mg, 1-3 times daily
Standardized powdered extract (4:1) root: 500 mg, 1-3 times daily
Root tincture (1:2) fresh root in 45 % alcohol: 100 – 150 drops, 3 times daily
From http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/dandelion-000236.htm

*Do not use if you are taking certain medicines used to treat infection (ciprofloxacin (Cipro(R)), gatafloxacin (Tequin(R)), levofloxacin (Levaquin(R)), norfloxacin (Noroxin(R)), ofloxacin (Floxin(R)), sparfloxacin (Zagam(R)), trovafloxacin (Trovan(R)))
*Do not use if you are taking potassium supplements (examples: Slo-K(R), K-Dur(R), Polycitra-K(R), Klor-Con(R)))
*Do not use if you are taking lithium with out discussing it with your doctor first
*Do not use if you are taking blood thinning medicine (examples: warfarin (Coumadin(R)), clopidogrel (Plavix(R)), aspirin, enoxaparin (Lovenox(R)), dalteparin (Fragmin(R)))
*Do not use if you have gall bladder problems (or stones)
*Do not use if you have stomach problems or irritable bowel
*Do not use if you are allergic to dandelion.  Persons allergic to chamomile, chrysanthemums, yarrow, feverfew, ragweed, sunflower, or daisies may also be allergic to dandelion.
*Discontinue use if you show signs of being allergic such as breathing problems, tightness in the throat or chest, chest pain, rashes, hives, itchy or swollen skin, digestive discomfort or pain.
(Contraindications from the PDR for Herbal Medicines)



Culinary Uses:

Dandelion is chock full of vitamins A-D, as well as iron, potassium, and zinc. Its leaves make a great addition to salads and can be infused in teas while the flowers make a mean wine, and the roots are a common component of coffee substitutes—dandelion can be used in soups, salads, wine, jam, sautés, sauces, sandwiches, teas, and  much more…

Fried Dandelion Blossoms (one of my favorites—I like it with ranch dressing)
As many flower heads as you can find Smiley
1 c. milk
1/2 tsp. salt
hot cooking oil
1 egg
1 c. flour
pinch of pepper
Pick new dandelion blossoms, those on short stems, and rinse well in cool, lightly salted water. Cut off the stem ends close to the flower heads, leaving only enough to hold the petals together, because the stems and greenery are bitter. Roll the dandelion flowers in paper towels to blot up the excess moisture, then dip each one in a batter made of 1 egg, beaten, with 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Drop the batter-coated blossoms into deep hot fat (375 degrees) and fry until lightly browned.
Drain on absorbent paper; Sprinkle with more salt, if needed. Serve and eat!



My grandfather used to make dandelion wine when I was growing up, the big fun thing for the kids used to be to sneak drinks from the jug…unfortunately my grandfather abhors writing anything down and prefers to make it up as he goes a long, tinkering a bit with a recipe each time he makes it (hmmmm…must be who I get it from), so I guess I’ll be experimenting with my own recipe eventually—in the mean time, here’s a whole internet tutorial on how to make dandelion wine…http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Dandelion-Wine (and if that doesn’t float your boat, this guy has a couple more recipes)

Magical Properties and Use:

Gender: Masculine
Planet: Jupiter
Element: Air
Deity: Hecate, Brigid, Belenos
Power: Divination, Wishes, Messenger
Astrological: Pisces, Sagittarius
The roots and leaves of Dandelion plants can be made into teas for spells or rituals concerning divination, luck, calling spirits, psychic powers, and wishes.  Roots, leaves, and flowers can be used in sachets or dream pillows for psychic dreaming and wishes.  The flowers can be sewn into small red flannel bag and worn around the neck for wishes.


*the flower head can be used to make a yellow dye, while the roots can be made into shades of red
*the milky, white sap is said to be a remedy for warts, and is said to repel mosquitoes
*the plant has been said to be a mild aphrodisiac

Recipes and Spells:

I haven’t tried it yet…but this recipe sounded super yummy—and the pic looks edible, except I don’t think the computer would appreciate drool marks!

Dandelion salad with pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and roasted delicata squash
November 2005

6 tablespoons pomegranate juice
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 unpeeled medium delicata squash or 1 medium acorn squash, halved, seeded, cut into 24 wedges total
1 pound dandelion greens, thick stems trimmed, leaves cut into 2-inch lengths (about 12 cups)
1 1/2 cups pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Whisk pomegranate juice and vinegars in bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Rewhisk before using.
Melt 2 teaspoons butter in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/3 of squash wedges. Cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer squash wedges to rimmed baking sheet. Repeat 2 more times with remaining butter and squash wedges. Sprinkle squash with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
Preheat oven to 450°F. Transfer squash to oven; bake 20 minutes.
Mix greens, pomegranate seeds, and pine nuts in large bowl. Toss with half of dressing. Divide among plates; top with squash. Drizzle with dressing.
For more gourmet dandelion recipies try http://http://www.epicurious.com/tools/searchresults?search=dandelion

The next recipe is something I am also a fan of, but have never made it myself…I usually buy a jar or two at farmers markets when I can find it, and eat it on PBJ or with butter on toast, or on cornbread, or muffings, also good on biscuits…

Dandelion Jelly

1   qt   dandelion blossoms
2   qt   water
2   tbl   fresh lemon juice
1 3/4   oz   powdered fruit pectin
5 1/2   cup   sugar

Pick bright, fresh dandelion blossoms and pack the quart container pretty tightly. This is going to require a lot of dandelion blossoms! Rinse quickly in cold water to remove any insects/dirt on the petals. Don’t leave the blossoms in the water for very long though, as they will be a little the worse for wear.
Next, pull up a chair somewhere comfortable, as this part is going to take awhile… Snip off the stem and green collar under each blossom, so that only the petals are left. This takes about four hours!
In an enamel saucepan, boil the dandelion petals in water for 3 to 4 minutes, or a little longer, until the water takes on their color.
Cool and strain, pressing against the petals with your fingers to extract all of the dandelion juice. (Or you can cheat and line a sieve with moistened cheesecloth and strain it that way.)
Measure out 3 cups of dandelion liquid. Add the lemon juice and fruit pectin. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, using a large kettle. Add the sugar, stirring to mix well. Continue stirring and boil the mixture for 2 1/2 minutes.
Pour into hot sterilized jelly jars and seal. Process for five minutes in a boiling water bath.
This recipe yields 5 half-pint jars.
Yield: 5 half-pints
This recipe and more @ http://fooddownunder.com/cgi-bin/search.cgi?q=dandelion

Dandelion Quiche
(recipe from the book Garden Spells, which bears a remarkable similarity to the movie Practical Magic)
(dandelion is said to encourage faithfulness)

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease a 9″ pie tin or baking dish. Coat with bread crumbs.

Fill with alternating layers of:

Dandelion greens, precooked until tender
Cheddar cheese, grated
Bacon, cooked till crisp and crumbled (optional)
Onion, diced and sauteed till translucent

Beat together:

3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup cream or half and half
3 large eggs
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt

Pour over other ingredients. Bake until top is golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly to set

Dandelion Salad

2 cups dandelion leaves
2 cups romaine lettuce leaves
2 cups iceberg lettuce leaves
1 cups diced tomatoes
½ cup grated carrots
½ cup chopped chives
¼  cup chive flowers
1 cup chopped dandelion flowers

Add whatever type of vinaigrette dressing you prefer to top it off, and toss, garnish top with a couple extra flowers and enjoy

Dandelion Greens   
As many dandelion leaves as you can eat/find

Wash well, and cover half way with water.  Cook until tender and serve with butter, salt and pepper.

Wilted Dandelion Greens

(I love this)

As many dandelion greens as you can eat/find (if dandelion greens are too strong for you, try half and half with spinach or green leaf lettuce

Half a package of bacon, chopped
Garlic, S&P to taste

Fry bacon.  DO NOT DRAIN.  Add vinegar and water…about a 1/3 c of vinegar and 2/3 c of water.  Add sugar, about 2-4 tablespoons.  Bring to rolling boil for a minute or two and dissolve sugar.  Pour over greens.




3 thoughts on “Dandelion”

  1. Hi really enjoyed your dandelion blog, I did not know that about dandelions…… I have a unique dandelion next to my bed made into a paper weight. I have always shared the joy of blowing a dandelion and wishing, I even blow on my paper weight occasionally, thanks from a big fairy at heart

  2. Sepiso L Ililonga said:

Share your thoughts...I always try to respond, though sometimes I get distracted!! If that's the case, I apologize in advance...

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