From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Taraxacum is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. They are native to Europe, North America and Asia and two species, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, are found as weeds worldwide. The common name Dandelion (pronounced /ˈdændɨlaɪ.ən/) is given to members of the genus and like other members of the Asteraceae family, they have very small flowers collected together into a composite flower head. Each single flower in a head is called a floret. Many Taraxacum species produce seeds asexually by apomixis, where the seeds are produced without pollination, resulting in offspring that are genetically identical to the parent plant.
Origin of the name
The English name dandelion is a corruption of the French dent de lion meaning "lion's tooth", referring to the coarsely-toothed leaves. The names of the plant have the same meaning in several other European languages, such as the Italian dente di leone, Spanish diente de león, Portuguese dente-de-leão, Norwegian Løvetann, and German Löwenzahn.
In modern French the plant is named pissenlit, which means "piss in bed", apparently referring to its diuretic properties. Likewise, "pissabeds" is an English folk-name for this plant, as is piscialletto in Italian and the Spanish meacamas. In various north-eastern Italian dialects the plant is known as pisacan ("dog pisses"), referring to how common they are found at the side of pavements, while in many other northern Italian dialects it is known as soffione ("blowing") referring to the blowing the seeds from the stalk. The same is true for German, where Pusteblume ("blowing flower") is a popular designation. Likewise, in Polish it is called "dmuchawiec", deriving from dmuchać ("to blow"). Whilst in its flowering form the Poles know it as Mlecz, a word derived from "milk", due to the plant's milky sap.
In Turkish the dandelion is called karahindiba meaning "black endive".
The Hungarian names for the plant are kutyatej ("dog milk"), referring to the aforementioned white sap found in the plant's stem and gyermekláncfű ("child's chain grass"), referring to the habit of children to pick dandelions, remove the flowers, and make links out of the stems by "plugging" the narrow top end of the stem into the wider bottom end.
The Lithuanian name kiaulpienė can be translated as "sow milk". Similarly, in Latvian it is called 'pienene, the word being derived from piens - milk.
In Finnish and Estonian, it is called voikukka and võilill, respectively, meaning "butter flower", referring to its buttery colour. In Swedish it is called maskros ("worm rose"), lik ely referring to its low status (being mostly considered a weed) despite a fairly pleasant appearance.
In Dutch it is called paardebloem, meaning "horse-flower".
In Chinese it is called "蒲公英" (pronounced pu gong ying), meaning flower that grows in public spaces by the riverside.
Dandelion contains luteolin, an antioxidant, and has demonstrated antioxidant properties without cytotoxicity.
Caffeic acid and carcinogenicity
Caffeic acid is a secondary plant metabolite produced in dandelion, yarrow, horsetail and whitethorn. Despite its name, it is unrelated to caffeine. Recent studies have revealed this acid may be carcinogenic. When caffeic acid was tested for carcinogenicity by oral administration in mice, renal cell adenomas appeared in females, and a high incidence of renal tubular cell hyperplasia occurred in animals of each sex. However, more recent research shows that bacteria present in the rodents' intestines may alter the formation of metabolites of caffeic acid. There have been no known ill effects of caffeic acid in humans.
Dandelions are important plants for bees. Not only is their flowering used as an indicator that the honey bee season is starting, but they are also an important source of nectar and pollen early in the season.
Dandelion is an extremely nourishing plant; its properties especially support the liver as well the kidneys, spleen, pancreas and the entire digestive system. Dandelion is extremely holistic, improving the function of the lymph, circulatory, glandular, urinary and nervous systems. Its leaves are extremely high in vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and calcium. Its roots are mineral rich, containing calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, choline, and even protein, carotenes and mineral salts.
Most all parts of the dandelion plant are useful, first, uses for the leaves:
The leaves make a great diuretic and help rinse the kindneys.
the roots can be used for:
gall bladder and liver problems ( great for detox)
the flowers can be used to make wine and add flavor to a salad.( young tender leaves can be used for greens)
You can dry the leaves and roots use them this way or you can steep them into a tea...
These are just a few uses for this amazing little plant that most of us consider a pesky weed!