Pinyin: Pu Gong Ying Latin: Taraxacum Officinale
Dandelion is a perennial growing to 0.45m by 0.3m, hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. Dandelion flowers from April to May, and the seeds ripen from May to June. Dandelion flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects, Apomictic (reproduce by seeds formed without sexual fusion). The plant is self-fertile and noted for attracting wildlife.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soil, can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. Dandelion requires moist soil and can tolerate maritime exposure.
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Root. Edible Uses: Coffee; Tea.*
Dandelions Leaves are used both raw or cooked[1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 12, 14, 33, 154]. When used in salads, they are rather bitter, though less so in the winter. Tender young leaves are considerably less bitter than older leaves[K]. Dandelion leaves are often blanched (by excluding light from the growing plant) before use. This will make them less bitter, but they will also contain less vitamins and minerals[K].*
Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) is a very nutritious food. 100g of the raw leaves contain about 2.7g. protein, 9.2g. carbohydrate, 187mg Calcium, 66mg phosphorus, 3.1mg iron, 76mg sodium, 397mg potassium, 36mg magnesium, 14000 iu vitamin A, 0.19mg vitamin B1, 0.26mg vitamin B2, 35mg vitamin C.*
Dandelion Root is used raw or cooked[5, 9, 12, 183]. Bitter. A turnip-like flavour. Flowers - raw or cooked[102, 159]. A rather bitter flavour[K], the unopened flower buds can be used in fritters and they can also be preserved in vinegar and used like capers. Both the leaves and the roots are used to flavour herbal beers and soft drinks such as 'Dandelion and Burdock'.*
The roots of 2 year old Dandelion plants are harvested in the autumn, dried and roasted to make a very good coffee substitute[2, 4, 5, 12, 54, 159] that is caffeine-free. A pleasant tea is made from the flowers[12, 102]. They are also used to make wine - all green parts should be removed when making wine to prevent a bitter flavour. The leaves and the roots can also be used to make tea.*
Traditional Chinese Medicinal (TCM) Uses:*
The dandelion is a commonly used herbal remedy, especially effective and valuable as a diuretic because it contains high levels of potassium salts and therefore can replace the potassium that is lost from the body when diuretics are used.*
All parts of the Dandelion plant, but especially the root, are slightly aperient, cholagogue, depurative, strongly diuretic, hepatic, laxative, stomachic and tonic[4, 7, 9, 21, 54, 165, 176, 222, 238]. The root is also experimentally cholagogue, hypoglycaemic and a weak antibiotic against yeast infections.*
The dried Dandelion root has a weaker action. The roots can be used fresh or dried and should be harvested in the autumn when 2 years old. The leaves are harvested in the spring when the plant is in flower and can be dried for later use. A tea can be made from the leaves or, more commonly, from the roots.*
Dandelion is used internally in the treatment of gall bladder and urinary disorders, gallstones, jaundice, cirrhosis, dyspepsia with constipation, oedema associated with high blood pressure and heart weakness, chronic joint and skin complaints, gout, eczema and acne.*
The plant has an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Pneumococci, Meningococci, Bacillus dysenteriae, B. typhi, C. diphtheriae, Proteus etc.*
The latex contained in Dandelion sap can be used to remove corns, warts and verrucae. The latex has a specific action on inflammations of the gall bladder and is also believed to remove stones in the liver. A tea made from the leaves is laxative.*
Compost; Cosmetic; Dye; Fruit ripening; Latex; Miscellany.
Dandelion flowers are an ingredient of 'QR' herbal compost activator. This is a dried and powdered mixture of several herbs that can be added to a compost heap in order to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost[K].
A liquid plant feed can be made from the root and leaves. A low quality latex, which can be used for making rubber, can be obtained from the roots of this plant. A magenta-brown dye is obtained from the root. The plant releases ethylene gas, this stunts the growth of nearby plants and causes premature ripening of fruits[14, 18]. A distilled water made from the ligules (thin appendages at the base of the leaf blades) is used cosmetically to clear the skin and is particularly effective in fading freckles.
- [K] Ken Fern
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Source: Taraxacum Officinale Dandelion Plants For A Future, England 1996-2008.
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