Uncommon Facts and Uses About Common Weeds and Wildflowers in North Carolina - The Dandelion

Dandelion "Blowball"
Dandelion "Blowball" | Source

The Dainty Dandelion

With a scientific name like Taraxacum officinale, it's easy to see why we just call this common weed a "dandelion", aptly named after lions for their lion-toothed leaves, and widespread medicinal value, proclaiming to heal everything from a common toothache to depression.

Origin

With roots as far back (no pun intended) to the early Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, the lowly dandelion was also very highly regarded and adored by gardeners and horticulturists alike in Europe and Japan in the New World. Nowadays, dandelion is common to North America, southern Africa, South America, New Zealand, Australia, and India, and occurs in all 50 states of the USA and most Canadian provinces. More locally, you'll find dandelions in yards, gardens, fields and at the edge of the woods, as their bright yellow tops seem to pop up most anywhere you look!

Dandelion flower
Dandelion flower | Source

Uncommon Uses of Dandelion

And while considered just an annoying weed to many, its more uncommon uses include:

  • a natural diuretic
  • a mild laxative
  • mosquito repellent
  • folk remedy to treat warts
  • used to make dandelion tea, believed to help liver toxicity from over-indulging in alcohol
  • a healthy addition to salads, containing more iron and calcium than spinach
  • healthy grass fertilizer
  • help aerate your lawn

And what young child (and even adults) hasn't puckered up and blew the magical blowball seeds to see how many years until you get married or how many children you'll have?! What fun to see those feathery seeds float off into the air. leaving us with a feeling of childlike amazement!

Dandelion Puff Ball and Flower
Dandelion Puff Ball and Flower | Source

Other Interesting Facts

Did you know....

  • The dandelion closely resembles the three celestial bodies - sun, moon and stars? The yellow flower is the sun; the blowball is the moon, and the blowing seeds look like stars!
  • Is one of the safest and most used herbs in the world, and has no known interactions with most standard medications?
  • Because dandelions are photosensitive, they open when its sunny, and close if its gloomy or rainy?
  • Many wildlife creatures such as deer, rabbits, chipmunks, birds and even ducks and geese feed on the dandelion flowers and seeds?
  • Dandelion seeds can travel up to five miles in a good wind?
  • Dandelion roots can be used to make a caffeine free coffee substitute, or beer?
  • Most every child has given their mother a bouqet of fresh picked dandelions at least once in his life?

Coming Next in Series - Queen Anne's Lace

Next series will be on the beautiful Queen Anne's Lace flower!

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