The name “dandelion” comes from the French “dent de lion” meaning “lion’s tooth” referring to the serrated edges of the leaves, which resemble a lion’s dentistry.
There are about 100 species of dandelion.
The plant is native to Europe and eastern Asia but is now one of the most widespread plants across the planet.
The dandelion is a perennial plant, meaning it returns year after year.
Dandelions can grow under a wide variety of conditions, whether wet or dry, sunny or shady. They are among the first plants to colonize disturbed areas, such as after a fire or following construction. The more disturbed an area is, the more seeds they produce, giving them an edge over other plants.
The main taproot of a dandelion can reach 3 feet deep into the earth to find water, which helps it survive droughts. The longest tap roots ever found reached a length of 15 feet . The stalks can reach heights of 2 feet, helping loft the seeds into the breeze. The seeds are capable of being carried 5 miles on the wind before landing. The more you mow it, the shorter the stalks get. The leaves can reach lengths of 14 inches.
Every part of the dandelion is edible, both raw and cooked.
Dandelions grow only from seed, but a single dandelion can produce seeds without benefit of cross-pollination from a different dandelion plant, meaning a single plant can spread clones of itself over a wide area without any other dandelions being in the vicinity.
Individual plants can grow for 5-10 years and reach a considerable size, up to 20 inches across.
Depending on its size and health there can be anywhere from 54 to 172 seeds per dandelion head.
A single plant can produce 2,000 individual seeds each season.
Dandelion pollen cannot cause allergies because the grains are too large to be bothersome.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s tallest dandelion was grown in Ontario, Canada and topped out at a whopping 70 inches (177.8 cm).
A cup of dandelion greens contains about 112 per cent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A and 535 per cent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin K, as well as calcium, iron and magnesium. Dandelion greens have 50 per cent more vitamin C than tomatoes, twice as much protein as eggplant, and double the fiber of asparagus. They have as much iron as spinach and more potassium than bananas.
The leaves, if picked before the plant flowers, are often incorporated into salads with other greens.
Dandelion roots can be dried and ground and used as a substitute for coffee.
Fossils of dandelions found in Eurasia indicate the plant evolved around 30 million years ago.
Seeds were brought to North America by pilgrims on the “Mayflower” because the dandelion had medicinal uses. Other settlers and explorers brought dandelion seeds to California, Canada and Mexico.
Vineland, N.J., is known as the Dandelion Capital of the World due to the fact that the dandelion is a cash crop in the region. The first National Dandelion Festival was held in Vineland in 1973.