Family: Asteraceae (Compositae), Taraxacum officinale,
Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984.
Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature
on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate
Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.
Common dandelion, Taraxacum officinale Wiggers, is believed
to be native to Europe. Naturalized in many parts of the world,
the plant is sometimes classified as Leontodon taraxacum
L. and known as blowball, cankerwort, Irish daisy, priest's crown,
swine's snout, lion's tooth, puffball, white endive, or wild endive.
A developing plant is characterized by a long, thick taproot,
a rosette of short leaves, and a single hollow stem bearing a
yellow flower, which turns into a round fluffy seed head at maturity.
Upon injury, the plant exude a milky latex or juice.
The reported life zone of dandelion is 5 to 26 degrees centigrade
with an annual precipitation of 0.3 to 2.7 meters and a soil pH
of 4.2 to 8.3 (4.1-31) . The plant is a hardy perennial,
adaptable to most soil conditions. Strong regenerative properties
make it difficult to eradicate, and it is therefore a common weed
in many locations.
Horticultural varieties of dandelion differing in morphological
and chemical characteristics are available for cultivation. Roots
are generally harvested in spring or fall of the second year,
while leaves and flower heads are gathered from cultivated and
wild plants throughout the growing season.
The bitter plant resin found in both roots and above-ground
parts contains taraxacin, taraxerin, taraxerol, taraxasterol,
inulin, gluten, gum, potash, choline, levulin, and putin (11.1-136,
14.1-35). The plant itself is nutritious, being high in vitamins
A, C, and niacin (11.1-136).
Dried and ground roots are used for noncaffinated, coffee-like
beverages, as a flavoring agent in coffee and cocoa, and as an
addition to salad dishes. Dandelion wine can be made from the
leaves and flower heads. Young, tender leaves are used in salads
and soups. Roots stored in fall may be stimulated under suitable
enviromental conditions to produce leaves for use in winter salads.
As a medicinal plant, dandelion has been considered to be an aperient,
diuretic, stimulant, stomachic, tonic, and detoxicant. Dandelion
tea has been used against fever, insomnia, jaundice, rheumatism,
eczema and other skin diseases, and constipation. Common dandelion
and other Taraxacum species have also been used against
warts, cancers, and tumors (14,1-14). The dried root constitutes
a crude drug, taraxacum, but appears to lack any real therapeutic
value (7.5-19, 14.1-23). Taraxacin in the plant resin
may stimulate gastric secretions (11.1-136). Hypoglycemic
effects have been noted in animals fed dandelions (7.1-21).
Taraxacum kok-saghyz Rodin, or Russian dandelion, is from
Turkestan and can be used for production of rubber (14.1-3).
Taraxacum mongolicum Hand.-Mazz. is employed in Chinese
herbal medicine for detoxification, fevers, external wounds, congestion,
stomach strengthening, and lactation stimulation. The resin of
the plant contains taraxacin, taraxacerin, taraxasterol, taraxerol,
pectinum, and choline (11.1-10, 11.1-97).
Extracts of common dandelion and Taraxacum laevigatum D.C.
are generally recognized as safe for human consumption (21 CFR
section 182.20 ).
[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in full in the original reference].
Last modified 6-Dec-1997