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All You Need To Know About Dandelions: From Medicinal Plant To Unwanted Weed

People might call them a weed, but the dandelion signifies the achievement of lost hope, the revelation of a wish that comes true. The bright yellow represents rebirth instead of destruction, a sign that things can turn around and be good again, no matter how terrible our losses are.

Dandelions are perhaps the most common among wild plants in the world. They are one class of plants that almost anyone can recognize at a glance. They are in all probability the most resilient of all plants that are present on the planet, a master of survival.

The omnipresent wildflower is a small flowering plant and belongs to the Asteraceae family. And dandelions have many funny and interesting aspects to their existence.

The name ‘Dandelion’ comes from the phrase ‘dents de lion’ in French, or lions tooth, a reference to the shape of the leaves of the plant. And along with its worldwide spread, it also has a host of names, including wild endive, canker wort, yellow gowan, pissenlit, blow ball, and puff ball.

Over 30 species of the plant are known to exist around the world. They are found in varied habitats that have adequate sunlight such as the edge of forests, meadows, gardens, lawns, and grasslands.   

Medicinal Properties Of The Dandelion

It was once revered for its magic and medicines and an abundance of food. Gardeners protected dandelions and uprooted grass to create space for the elegant flowering weed.

dandelion

But then humans in the 20th century decided that it was an unwanted weed and has slowly turned into one of the most disliked plants that grow in a garden.

Dandelions were once a vital ingredient in traditional medicine with the Chinese using them for centuries. The weed is considered native to the Mediterranean region and was well known to the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians.

The roots and leaves of the plant were given as a de-toxicant and also served as a mild diuretic, helping rid the body of water and sodium salt. It also helped in improving the functioning of the digestive system. These properties have also been recognized by modern medicine.

The dandelions came to North America on the Mayflower, brought on purpose for their medicinal benefits.

People have been consuming dandelion tonics to help the liver eliminate blood toxins. The dandelion was prescribed for warts and even the plague.

They were also prescribed for lethargy, sores, toothache, fevers, dandruff, baldness, and general weakness. It was only in the 20th century that the essential cause was pinned on vitamin deficiencies, which killed millions when vitamin tablets were unknown. Even scurvy was a killer disease then.

Dandelion has been found to contain more vitamin C than even tomatoes, and more vitamin A than even spinach, and is also packed with calcium, potassium, and iron. They are also very nutritious, more so than many vegetables that we consume.

Dandelions Also Revered For Their Beauty

The plants were also revered for their unique beauty. They were commonly found in gardens in Europe and were the subject of many poems. For settlers struggling in the new world, the dandelions were a reminder of the home across the ocean.

dandelion

In Japan, there are horticultural societies devoted to the beauty of the dandelion and the development of more exciting varieties. The plants thrive in the sun and look for disturbed soil beds to thrive.

Dandelions are hardy and are difficult to eradicate once they take root. They grow fast and go from sprout to a seed in a matter of days. And they also live for long, with the roots sinking deep over the years down to even 15 feet and burrowing their way through cement and gravel.

They are called ruderals or pioneer plants, for this reason, they are the first plant to make a comeback after the land is disturbed, such as after a fire.

The plants are generally harmless to the respiratory system as their pollen grains are too large to cause allergies. But touching or consuming dandelion can cause a reaction in some people.

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