Science notes


DANDELION - Leontodon sp. Dent de Lion, Fall Dandelion, Hawkbit, Loewenzahn, Sunflower. Russian: Kool'baba.

Taraxacum sp. Loewenzahn, Pissenlit. Russian: Odoovanchik.

L. taraxacum (Taraxacum officinale, vulgare, dens-leonis): Achicoria Amarga de México, Amargón Común, Blowball, Bum Pipe, Burning Fire, Cankerroot, Cerraja, Clock Flower, Clocks, Clocks and Watches, Combs and Hairpins, Common Dandelion, Conquer More, Dandelion Root, Devil's Milkplant, Devil's Milkpail, Diente de Leon, Dog Post, Down Head, Fairy Clocks, Farmer's Clocks, Golden Suns, Horse Gowan, Irish Daisy, Lay A-bed, Lion's Teeth, Male, Mess-a-bed, Milk Witch, Peasant's Clock, Pishamoolag, Piss-a-bed, Pissimire, Pittle Bed, Priest's Crown, Racine de Dent de Lion, Radix Taraxaci, Schoolboy's Clock, Shepherd's Clock, Shit-a-bed, Stink Davine, Swine's Snout, Taraxaco, Tell Time, Time Flower, Time Teller, Twelve O'Clock, Wet Weed, Wishes, Witches' Gowan, Yellow Gowan. Has pharmacological properties. Be sure your source has not been sprayed with herbicides; the Dandelion is a favorite target. This plant is outstandingly nutritious. Eat the youngest leaves as a salad, or cover the older leaves with earth to take out the bitterness, and blanch them like Chicory; use plenty of manure to grow them. Jeanette Gilge reports that around the turn of the century, her grandmother used to cover her dandelion plants for two days, which caused them to double in size, and then served the hearts "tossed lightly with heavy cream, a dash of vinegar, and sprinkled with sugar." Dandelion greens were served with fried fish. As a green, a pound of Dandelion contains 12.3 grams of protein, 3.2 grams of fat, 40 grams of carbohydrate, 849 grams of calcium, 318 grams of phosphorus, 61,970 units of Vitamin A, 14 mg of iron, _.85 mg of Thiamine, 3.8 mg of Niacin, and 163 units of Vitamin C. It is also rich in Vitamins D and G and potassium. In contrast, lettuce contains 3.8 grams of protein, _.6 grams of fat, 9.1 grams of carbohydrates, 194 grams of calcium, 63 grams of phosphorus, 5060 units of Vitamin A, _.14 mg of Iron, _.26 mg of Thamine, _.6 mg of Niacin, and _.6 units of Vitamin C. This is such a nutritious plant that a pinch used as seasoning, even dried, will contribute significantly to health. A spring tonic, the leaves should be gathered when they are young and tender, before the plants start to bloom. They can be served with a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, and a smidgen of garlic. Eat them like Common Sow Thistle or in sandwiches with a little Worcestershire sauce. Caution: Worcestershire sauce contains Monosodium Glutimate. The leaves are cooked like spinach. Plunge them into boiling water, return to a boil, discard the water, and boil in fresh water until tender, or about 7 minutes. Gather many more than you think you will need; they cook down. You may add a pinch of baking soda if you wish. The French make a dish called Pissenlit au lard by putting crisply fried bacon bits on top of raw dandelion leaves. The dressing is made of vinegar, bacon fat, and seasoning. You can also use the flowers in this dish. The developing flowerheads can be cut from the rosette and boiled for two to five minutes. After the flowers open, they can be scrambled with eggs or added to batter. To use the flowers, cut off the green bract, because it will make it bitter. One can also use Cattail or Bulrush pollen in the batter. The crown, or part between the leaves and the roots, is also edible. The root is edible raw. It is used as a coffee substitute, and can be combined with roasted chicory or rye. To prepare, scrub well, then roast the root in a slow oven for four hours or until it is brittle and chocolate brown clear through. Grind and use as you would coffee beans. You can dry it in the sun awhile before roasting. It can also be eaten scraped, sliced, and boiled. The root can be cooked Japanese Nituke style. Chop the roots into thin rings, saute in about a Tbsp. of oil to a cup of roots, add a little water, salt, and cover the pan, and stew until the roots are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add a dash of soy sauce. Caution: Soy sauce sometimes contains Monosodium Glutimate. Dandelion leaves and flowers can be used to make wine.

The root is tonic, laxative, cleansing, aperitive, and diuretic. It contains a resin soluble in ether and chloroform, and another resin soluble in alcohol, taraxacerin, C9H15O, which is a naturally waxy substance; a bitter principle, taraxacin, which exists in quantities up to _.05%, which in concentrated solution gives a precipitate with various of the reagents for alkaloids, and which changes into oxalic acid and other products when acted upon by oxidants. It also contains up to 12% minerals, and in the spring, sugar and levulin, which disappear in the fall, being replaced by a high relative proportion of inulin. Use as tea, capsules, or extract. It is good for the liver, digestive system, bowels, hepatitis, jaundice, cirrhosis, high blood pressure, water retention, inflammation, and cholesterol. The tea is used for stomachache, heartburn, chest pain, urinary complaints, and ulcerations in the urinary passage. Use it for gallbladder, spleen, female organs, rheumatism, and skin diseases caused by impure blood such as scurvy, scrofula, and eczema. It is mild and safe, can be used for prolonged periods, and combines well with other liver tonics and many herbs. Because it is high in nutritive salts, it purifies the blood and counteracts an acid condition. The deep roots bring minerals to the surface for other plants. The leaf tea is diuretic, sedative, and used for dropsy and high blood pressure. It is tonic to the liver and gall bladder, used for congestion, jaundice, and anemia. One authority says that the leaf is considerably more diuretic than the root, and that the root is much better for the liver than the leaf. As a dye, the entire plant including the roots produces beige, and also when mixed with tin, gold, and alum. With chrome, copper, or iron, it yields green. Birds, rabbits and chipmunks like this plant. T. californicum (T. ceratophorum, lapponicum, montanum): Horned Dandelion has pharmacological properties. L. nudicaulis (L. leysseri): Hairy Hawkbit.

The combination of greens known as Poke Salad is made up of Dandelion, Amaranth, Cowslip, and Cress.

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