Dandelion

Author: Dr Marius Rademaker, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand,1999.

Common name: Dandelion, Lion's tooth
Botanical name: Taraxacum officinale
Family: Asteracea (Compositae)
Origin: Europe but now naturalised world wide.
Description: Dandelion can be easily distinguished by its naked flower stalk and by its leaves, which are always in a basal rosette. The bright green leaves are spatulate to lanceolate, deeply and irregularly toothed, and can grow to a 25cm length. The flower stalks rise straight up out of the center of the radial leaves. Each stalk holds one flower head. Both stalks and leaves release latex, a milky sap, when wounded, and may cause dermatitis for latex-sensitive people. Flowers begin as roundish, green buds huddled in the center of the leaf rosette and open into 5 cm flower heads made up of bright yellow ray flowers. Seeds are borne below tiny, individual parachute-like tufts that are carried away on the slightest breeze.
Uses: Generally regarded as a garden weed. Can be used as food, as a coffee substitute and made into wine. Both leaves and roots have been used as a diuretic. Infusions of the leaves or roots serve as a digestive aid. The decocted, fresh roots are one of the oldest known remedies for constipation, kidney-stones and gallstones although there is no evidence that they work. Poultices of dandelion leaves have been used to treat fractures. The milky juice (latex) has been used to remove warts.
Allergens: Taraxinic acid (sesquiterpene lactone)
Allergy: Allergic contact dermatitis has been reported following contact with dandelions whilst mowing lawns, picking the leaves for pet food, and for wine-making. A golfer developed dermatitis following contact with dandelions.
Cross reactions: Other members of the Compositae family (asteraceae).
Other information: Also known as Blowball, Cankerwort, Lion's Tooth, Piss-a-bed, Pissenlit, Priest's Crown, Puffball, Swine Snout, White Endive, and Wild Endive.
Patch test: Leaf as is, Oleoresin 0.1%.

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