Dandelion, also known as dandelionis a European perennial plant which grows spontaneously throughout the northern hemisphere. When wild, a is mostly used food purposewhile the cultivated varieties usually have specific uses.
The plant also has a long history of use as a medicinal plant. We find traces of it in the Greeks, the Arabs, in Turkish and Mexican folk medicine, in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. So let’s find out what plant the dandelion is and what the vegetable is used for.
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What plant is dandelion
Dandelion, scientific name Taraxacum officinale it is a wild plant used since ancient times for its medicinal properties. Not surprisingly, the name taraxacum derives from the Greek ‘tarasso’ or “to heal”, “to heal”, precisely by virtue of the healing properties of the plant.
It is also known by many other different names: “dandelion” due to the indented appearance of the leaves, “soffione” or “capo di frate” due to the appearance of the flower. In some dialects it is called “piscialetto” or in French “pissenlit”, probably with reference to its diuretic properties. While, the peasant tradition of central Italy knows it as chicory. Not everyone harvests it believing it to be something other than chicory, but dandelion is perfectly ediblehas no toxic or psychotropic principles and, indeed, has a very high nutritional density because it is a wild and unselected species.
Characteristics of the dandelion
Belonging to the Asteraceae family, the dandelion, like chicory, also grows spontaneously throughout Italy, in sunny and uncultivated lands. It has a tap root from which a basal rosette of leaves develops at ground level. These are oblong, lanceolate and with a toothed margin. The flower is yellow, golden. Compared to chicory it has a sweeter taste.
A curiosity. Dandelion is one of the first wild plants available at the end of winter. It grows from more or less February, leveled to the ground, and reaches heights of 3-7 centimetres. When all the surrounding vegetation starts to grow again, however, the chicory also continues to grow in height. He gets up so as not to suffocate under the shade of nearby plants.
Medicinal properties: what is dandelion used for?
Dandelion has a long history of use as a medicinal plant, as we have already mentioned. It was used by traditional medicine above all for the treatment of diabetes, liver disease and tumours, as well as for the treatment of the digestive and urinary systems.
From a phytotherapeutic point of view, it has characteristics very similar to those of chicory. They are ascribed to the dandelion digestive, diuretic and purifying propertiesbesides that choleretic and cholagogue properties. In other words, the inulin contained in the plant facilitates the production and excretion of bile with beneficial effects on the liver.
In addition to internal use, dandelion is also used to prepare beauty packs and some use to smoke the dried leaves to relieve coughs.