Taraxacum is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. They are native to Eurasia and North America, and two species, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, are found as weeds worldwide. Both species are edible in their entirety. The common name dandelion is given to members of the genus, and like other members of the Asteraceae family, they have very small flowers collected together into a composite flower head. Each single flower in a head is called a floret.
The dandelion plant is a beneficial weed, with a wide range of uses, and is even a good companion plant for gardening, but is often thought of solely as "bad". It has been described as "a plant for which we once knew the use but we've forgotten it". Homeowners or hired lawn-keepers often control dandelions with herbicides, and counter-efforts against herbicide use can create social friction in residential neighborhoods. However, its ability to break up hard earth with its deep tap root, bringing up nutrients from below the reach of other plants, makes it a good companion for weaker or shallower-rooted crops. It is also known to attract pollinating insects and release ethylene gas which helps fruit to ripen. Dandelions are important plants for northern hemisphere bees. Not only is their flowering used as an indicator that the honey bee season is starting, but they are also an important source of nectar and pollen early in the season.
The Latin name taraxacum has its origin in medieval Arabic writings on pharmacy. Al-Razi around 900 (A.D.) wrote "the tarashaquq is like chicory". Ibn Sīnā around 1000 (A.D.) wrote a book chapter on taraxacum. Gerard of Cremona, in translating Arabic to Latin around 1170, spelled it tarasacon.
The English name dandelion is a corruption of the French dent de lion meaning "lion's tooth", referring to the coarsely toothed leaves. In France it is also known as Laitue de Chien (Dog's lettuce); Salade de Taupe (Mole's salad or Brown salad), Florin d'Or (Golden florin); Cochet (Cockerel); Fausse Chicorée (False Chicory); and Couronne de moine (Monk's crown).
Dandelion leaves contain abundant amounts of vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamins A, C and K, and are good sources of calcium (0.19% net weight), potassium (0.4% net weight) and fair amounts of iron and manganese, higher than similar leafy greens such as spinach. They contain 15% protein and 73% carbohydrates, 37% of which is fiber (27% of the leaves are fiber). The leaves also contain smaller amounts of over two dozen other nutrients, and are a significant source of beta carotene (0.03% net weight), lutein and zeaxanthin (combined 0.066% net weight). A cup of dandelion leaves contains 112% daily recommendation of vitamin A, 32% of vitamin C, and 535% of vitamin K and 218 mg potassium, 103 mg calcium, and 1.7 mg of iron. Dandelions are also an excellent source of vitamin H, which aids weight loss when ingested.
Dandelion leaves and buds have been a part of traditional Mediterranean (especially Sephardic cuisine) and Asian, most notably Chinese and Korean cuisines.
Southern Style dandelion Greens
Roman Style Spicy Sauteed Dandelion Greens
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