Wacky dandelion information

  • Photo by Michael Kirwan Wet the bed? Blame a dandelion. Dandelions have diuretic properties, which means that if you eat them, they may send you to the bathroom more than usual. One English name for the plant is “pissabeds” and the French people call it pissenlit, which translates to “pee in bed.”

  • People argue over how the dandelion got its name. Some say it's because the plant's leaves are jagged, like a lion's many sharp teeth. It's true that “dent de lion” is French for Lion's teeth, and that the plant's Latin name was once dens leonis, which also means lion's teeth. There are other theories, too, but frankly, most of them are pretty lame.

  • A dandelion bloom is actually many tiny flowers bunched together. Each makes one seed in the poofball.

Photo by Amy Lenzo

  • The dandelion produces a lot of nectar for insects and is an
    important plant for bees making honey.

  • When you pick a dandelion, the milky (and bitter) juice that
    oozes out will stain your skin brown.

  • The blooms close up and go to bed about our dinnertime. If
    you see them closed up earlier in the day, it's probably going
    to rain soon. They may look like little umbrellas but they don't
    much like to get wet!

  • The dandelion's gossamer seed ball is known as a
    “dandelion clock”. Supposedly, the number of puffs it takes
    to blow away all the seeds tells you what time it is.


Photo by Vic Brincat

  • The seeds can be carried on the wind, like tiny parachutes, for miles.

  • When all the seeds have flown from the poof, what's left looks like a bald head with green fringe. So people in the Middle Ages called dandelions “Priest's Crown,” after the partly-shaved heads of monks (though we hope their remaining hair wasn't green).

  • You can eat it! Dandelion leaves are high in vitamins A and C, and they contain more iron than spinach. Young dandelion leaves (which haven't grown tough or bitter yet) often appear in salads or sandwiches, especially in Europe. They can also be cooked like spinach, made into soup, or brewed into beer. Roasted roots may be brewed into an herbal coffee, and dried or juiced roots have been used as medicine for centuries. Finally, the flower heads can be boiled into jelly or wine. I've made dandelion jelly myself; here's a recipe! (You'll need
    Adobe Acrobat Reader to open these recipes; they're PDF files.)