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Eastern Shore Food Lab

Taraxacum officinale - Dandelion

Dandelion is a common weed that grows almost anywhere. When blooming the flowers are bright yellow and decorate landscapes everywhere looking similar to the sun. When going to seed the yellow flowers turn into easily blown away puffs of white.

Common Name: Dandelion
Scientific Name:  Taraxacum officinale
Plant Family: Asteraceae (Daisy Family)
Etymology: The scientific name, Taraxacum officinale can be broken down into its two parts: Taraxacum refers to roots that can be used in medicine; officinale refers to the medicinal properties of this plant. The Spanish common name “diente de león” translates to “lion’s tooth.”

Primary Uses

Edible Parts
The roots can be made into a beverage when roasted or boiled, and are usually harvested in the fall.The leaves can be used as a green either raw or cooked. Additionally, the flowers can be eaten, made into wine, and used as a garnish in edible arrangements.

Medicinal Uses
Dandelion serves as a strong detoxifier. It is used to help cure hepatic and biliary ailments, as well as viral and bacterial infections. It helps most with liver and kidney functions. Dandelion can also be used as a diuretic, which enhances its detoxifying properties. In Europe, dandelion was used in remedies for fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea. The Cherokee used it as a toothache remedy, a blood medicine, and a sedative. The Delaware used it as a laxative. The Iroquois used it as a dermatological aid to get rid of sores.

Historic Uses

Dandelion was introduced to the New World by Europeans, who made wine from its flowers in medieval times. 

Habitat 

Dandelion grows best in well-drained soil that is high in nitrogen and nutrients, but can grow in almost any conditions. 

How to Identify 

Dandelions can be identified by their toothed leaves that point toward a central basal rosette, yellow sun-like flowers, and white puffy seed heads. 

Additional Information 

A 2018 study conducted by the American Journal of Otolaryngology found that an extract of plants called BNO 1030 that included dandelions was effective in treating tonsillitis in children 6-18. A study by the Polish State Research Institute suggests that four tested dandelion fractions, especially phenolic fractions from petals which are recognized as better than leaves source of flavonoids, may be a new and promising source of natural compounds with antioxidant activity beneficial for diseases associated with oxidative stress, and with changes of hemostasis. 

Planting Considerations 

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 1-11
  • Native Range: Evolved in Eurasia, naturalized almost everywhere. 
  • Forest Garden Layer: ground cover, herbaceous
  • Permaculture functions:  Food, medicine, pollinator, early succession plant
  • Soil texture: Dandelion plants thrive on soils rich in nitrogen and potassium. It prefers soils low in calcium or where there is poor decay of organic matter.
  • Height: Less than a foot
  • Spread: 6 inches
  • Growth rate: Fast; after bloom it takes 12 days for the seeds to ripen.
  • Sun: Full sun-part shade
  • Bloom: May-June but can grow throughout the fall 
  • Attracts: Caterpillars, pollinators
  • Tolerates: Partial shade
  • Drawbacks: Can spread incessantly, can’t tolerate high phosphorous 

Sources

  • Rodriguez-Fragoso, Lourdes, et al. “Risks and Benefits of Commonly Used Herbal Medicines in Mexico.” Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, vol. 227, no. 1, Jan. 2008, pp. 125–135. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.taap.2007.10.005.
  • Jędrejek, Dariusz, et al. “Evaluation of Antioxidant Activity of Phenolic Fractions from the Leaves and Petals of Dandelion in Human Plasma Treated with H2O2 and H2O2/Fe.” Chemico-Biological Interactions, vol. 262, Jan. 2017, pp. 29–37. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.cbi.2016.12.003.
  • PopovychVasyl, et al. “A Randomized, Open-Label, Multicenter, Comparative Study of Therapeutic Efficacy, Safety and Tolerability of BNO 1030 Extract, Containing Marshmallow Root, Chamomile Flowers, Horsetail Herb, Walnut Leaves, Yarrow Herb, Oak Bark, Dandelion Herb in the Treatment of Acute Non-Bacterial Tonsillitis in Children Aged 6 to 18American Journal Of Otolaryngology, vol. 40, no. 2, Mar. 2019, pp. 265–273. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.amjoto.2018.10.012.

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