The Dandelion

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The Dandelion, of the genus Taraxacum and the class Magnoliopsida is a close relative of the Sunflower. The name, Dandelion comes from the French phrase for ¡¥Teeth of Lion¡¦, dent de lion, due to the likeness of the shape of the plant¡¦s leaves and a lion¡¦s canine teeth, whilst its generic name, Taraxacum Officinale was influenced by the plant¡¦s many medical properties. Taraxacum meaning ¡¥disorder-remedy¡¦ and Officinale, stating that the plant has medicinal attributes. Other popular names for this plant include swine snout, priest¡¦s crown and pissabed. Framed by shiny, hairless, jagged leaves, the bare, hollow, magenta-tinted stems (that hold up the flower heads) carry bright yellow caps of countless tiny tie-shaped golden petals, which after fertilization, mature into white fluffy balls containing seeds. The leaves that rise from the tap root are naturally positioned for rain to slide straight into it, thus keeping itself well fed. This ¡§common meadow herb¡¨ originated from Greece and was introduced to ¡§all parts of the north temperate zones¡¨ . Now they are so abundant that they crowd and strangle fields almost all over the world, and have made a name for itself as the ¡§King of Weeds¡¨. The Dandelion, surprisingly, has a large number of uses, both nutritional and medicinal. Back in the olden days and even now, the entire plant was utilized. Wine was extracted from the flowers; the leaves were used as vegetables, while the stems and roots were mainly used as medicine. Nowadays in Western medicine, this herb is hardly mentioned but usage of it for culinary purposes is still blooming, especially in European countries such as France. Nutrition-wise, the Dandelion caters to both the animal kingdom and humans. They provide pollen and nectar for bees throughout spring and even until late autumn, when the bees¡¦ usual sources of honey stop blooming. This lessens the time in which the bees¡¦ require artificial food, thus benefiting beekeepers. Dandelions¡¦ do not only attract bees, but research has confirmed that over 93 types of insects rely on its nectar, whilst animals, such as small birds, pigs, goats and rabbits devour it avariciously. The leaves can be torn to bits and used as filling of sandwiches; they are also used to create Herb beer that, compared to normal beer, is much cheaper and less likely to make a person drunk. The wine strengthens and invigorates, being a tonic, improving blood circulation. The taproot, after being dried, chopped, roasted and grounded into fine powder has been discovered to be an ¡§almost indistinguishable¡¨1 substitute for real coffee.

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