DANDELION (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion flwrs

Eurasia

Dandelion bio

The familiar bright yellow of the Dandelion is unwelcome in most gardens. If this wildflower appears on your patch, it will most likely have come as a seed blown on the breeze, not one planted by yourself from a seed packet.

The Dandelion is an annual with prodigious properties of reproduction. Dandelion roots are notoriously difficult to dig up, & any bit of root left in the ground will grow  into another Dandelion.

MURAL web - tidied up interior mural - dandelion, closeup of summer meadows sign

Dandelions on the Wildflower Mural, Ecology Centre, Gillespie Park

 

Wildlife friendly

In a woodland garden, or part of a garden left to grow wild, the plant can be appreciated for its wildlife-friendly qualities. Butterflies ( Peacock, Speckled Wood, Orange Tip & Brimstone ), bees & other insects visit the Dandelion for its nectar.

Moths ( Buff Ermine, The Shears, Cream Wave, Gold Swift, Clouded Buff, Northern Rustic & Great Brocade ) & beetles use taraxacum as a food plant. The flowers close overnight, & during rain.

 

 

 

 

Traditional

Common Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, from A Modern Herbal, Maud Grieve 1931.

“The ingratitude shown to the dandelion is almost unbelievable. We should be inviting it in to our gardens with low bows, rather than uprooting it with imprecations. Few gardeners take note of that word officinale, which points to the fact that the dandelion should be treated with respect as a herb used in medicine.

Perhaps if we mentioned in passing to our neighbours that our Taraxacums were doing well this year, we might do a little to reinstate what is, after all, quite a handsome flower. But no, its old-fashioned names of Piss-a-bed in the United States and England, and Pissenlit in France, would rise, a guilty secret from the past, to SMIRCH its already tarnished good name…”

“Dandelion wine is famous for its potency, but dandelion coffee is, well, dandelion coffee.”

GREEN MAGIC – FLOWERS, PLANTS and HERBS in LORE and LEGEND, Lesley Gordon, Ebury Press, Webb & Bower Ltd, Exeter.

 

Dandelion clock drwg 300dpi

It is a sure sign of rain when the down blows off the dandelion while there is no wind: and to blow the seeds off a dandelion is to carry one’s thoughts to a loved one.’    Jeanne Rose, HERBS & THINGS/Jeanne Rose’s Herbal, Grosset & Dunlap, Workman Publishing Company, New York 1973.

 

 

Medicinal

The Dandelion was referred to as ‘blessed medicine’ in the 18th century in Europe. Native to Greece, used as food and medicine throughout the world but more so in Germany, China and England.   Arabian physicians of the middle ages first officially recognised the plant’s medicinal properties and named it Taraxacon from the Greek taraxos ‘disorder’ and ‘akos’ for ‘remedy’.

The plant was used medicinally in China for over 1,000 yrs as a treatment for breast cancer, for diseases of the liver, gall and spleen. English botanist Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) said it was used to treat jaundice and urinary infections. Traditionally dug up by French-Canadians in its second season, to use the roots   .    Icelanders did the same, and fried the roots. In eastern medicine, they traditionally used dandelion to heal liver complaints. They also used the coarsely ground root to heal snake bites and to inhibit the growth of tumor cells in a mixture along with kelp and gotu kola.

Jennifer Heinzel, in the garden/discovering dandelion uses,  mother earth living.

 

Doctrine of Signatures: Dandelion is examined in That Signature Look: An Introduction to The Doctrine of Signatures, Allaire Diamond, Conservation ecologist with the Vermont Land Trust, 2914. . https://northernwoodlands.org/articles/article/doctrine-signatures

Magical, Herbal

 Dandelion man slathering

 

Dandelion man best gear short

 

16th century Herbalist Matthiolus: “Magicians say that if a person rubs himself all over with (the decoction of the whole plant), he will everywhere be welcome and obtain what he wishes” (!)

NATURE’S FORGOTTEN FOLKLORE: MYTHS and MAGIC in ISLINGTON, Richard Meyers for Islington Council

Other names: Barbed Arrows and Fishhooks, Combs and Hairpins, Conquer Moors, Crow-parsnip, Dashel, Dazzle-flower, Devil’s Milkpail, Dirt-abed, Farmer’s Clocks, Fortune-teller, Golden Sun, Gramfer Griggle-sticks, Lady of Spring, Lie-a-Bed, Lion’s Teeth, Monkshead, One O’Clocks, Four O’Clock, Peasant’s clock, Stink Davie, Twelve O’clock, Wild William

 

This experience of the dandelion was posted to the Plant-Lore website:

“I grew up in New Zealand (born 1944) where dandelions are considered the lawn-grower’s enemy. Very surprised to be served them in France in 1973 as a salad. Salade de pissenlits with a good vinaigrette is considered quite a delicacy – seasonal, of course. I loved it but I can understand that children would not like the bitter taste”. [e-mail, Australia, January 2013].

http://www.plant-lore.com/?s=dandelion


Plant-Lore is an Archive of local names, herbal remedies, sayings, riddles, tales, legends & more. Botanist, lecturer & author Roy Vickery, The Compiler of the Archive, was born in rural Dorset but now lives in South London. He is available for walks & talks. You provide the weed patch, he will do the rest.

Roy welcomes information on plants from all parts of the British Isles, ethnic groups settled in the British Isles, & comparative material from overseas, no matter how widespread and well-known you consider it to be. A copy of all material received will eventually be placed in the care of the library of The Natural History Museum.

www.plant-lore.com/

Plant-Lore. Collecting the folklore & uses of plants

Roy Vickery, 9 Terrapin Court, Terrapin Road, London SW17 8QW.