The humble Dandelion. What is it good for?
The Dandelion is known by it’s latin name of Taraxacum officinale. There are a number of similar plants labelled false dandelions but we’ll look at the one we all know.
They are native to Eurasia and North and South America, and two species, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, are found as weeds worldwide. Both species are edible in their entirety. The common name dandelion comes from the French dent-de-lion, meaning “lion’s tooth”. 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
Dandelions are tap rooted biennials or perennial plants.The tap root on a dandelion can reach up to a foot and a half in length. This is why they are so hard to remove. If some root is left behind after pulling them up they will regrow.
A Beneficial Weed
The dandelion plant can be a beneficial weed, with a wide range of uses, and is even a good companion plant for gardening. Its taproot will bring up nutrients for shallower-rooting plants, and add minerals and nitrogen to soil. It is also known to attract pollinating insects. Taraxacum seeds are also an important food source for certain birds
As a noxious weed
The Dandelion is considered to be a nuisance in residential and recreational lawns. It is also an important weed in agriculture and causes significant economic damage because of its infestation in many crops worldwide.
However Dandelion has many medicinal uses.
Historically, dandelion was prized for a variety of medicinal properties, and it contains a wide number of pharmacologically active compounds. Dandelion is used as a herbal remedy in Europe, North America and China. It has been used in herbal medicine to treat infections, bile and liver problems, and as a diuretic.
The Dandelion is actually full of full of vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. Dandelion leaves are used to add flavour to salads, sandwiches, and teas. The roots are used in some coffee substitutes, and the flowers are used to make wines!
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