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What is dandelion?

Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine

The dandelion is a perennial plant with an almost worldwide distribution. While many individuals consider the dandelion to be an unwanted weed, herbalists all over the world have revered this valuable herb. Its common name, dandelion, is a corruption of the French for "tooth of the lion" (dent-de-lion). This name describes the herb's leaves, which have several large, pointed teeth. Its scientific name, Taraxacum, is from the Greek taraxos (disorder) and akos (remedy). This alludes to dandelion's ability to correct a multitude of disorders. A hardy perennial, which grows in all temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere, dandelion reaches 3 to 35 cm in height. It is easily recognized by its deeply toothed, hairless leaves, measuring 5 to 30 cm in length and 1 to 10 cm in width, which form a rosette at ground level, and the single golden yellow flower that emerges from the rosette's center on a straight, purplish, leafless, hollow stem. The flower, which is actually a collection of tiny florets, appears from early spring until late autumn. When the florets mature, they produce downy seeds that are easily dispersed by the wind, giving rise to dandelion's aliases of "puffball" and "blowball."

Although its flowers are most evident in early summer, dandelion may be found in bloom, and consequently prolifically dispersing its seeds, throughout most of the year.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.