Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Common Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale


Introduction "...introduced to North America from Europe and is now found across the continent, including in the Arctic and on Baffin Island (USDA 2010). In BC, it is found across most of the province in disturbed sites including lawns, roadsides, and pastures. In the spring, the species is distinctive with its cluster of bright yellow flowers and dark green elongated toothy leaves--flowers appear year-round and have mutiple petals and flowers. Plants have thick, long taproots.... This is the most widespread species of dandelion in North America, and it is now found worldwide (Brouillet 2010)" [E-flora]


Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses


"A good source of lecithin and choline, both of which are beneficial to memory, plus the antioxidant carotenoids lutein and violaxanthin." [EMEFDNS]

Acids and phenols

  • Caffeic acid [HerbalMed3]
  • p-hydroxyphenylacetic acid [HerbalMed3]
  • chlorogenic acid [HerbalMed3]
  • cichoric acid [HerbalMed3]
  • monocaffeoyl tartaric acids [HerbalMed3]
  • taraxacoside [HerbalMed3]
  • linoleic acid [HerbalMed3]
  • linolenic acid [HerbalMed3]
  • oleic acid [HerbalMed3]
  • palmitic acid. [HerbalMed3]


  • Cichoriin [HerbalMed3]
  • Aesculin [HerbalMed3]


  • apigenin-7-O-glucosides [PDR]
  • luteolin-7-O-glucosides [PDR]
  • luteolin-7-glucoside [HerbalMed3]
  • luteolin-7-diglucosides [HerbalMed3]


  • Carotenoids [HerbalMed3]
  • Choline [HerbalMed3]
  • Inulin [HerbalMed3] (2-40%, high values in autumn) [PDR]
  • Muscilages [PDR]
  • Pectin [HerbalMed3]


  • sitosterol [HerbalMed3][EMNMPV.7]
  • stigmasterol [HerbalMed3][EMNMPV.7]
  • taraxasterol [HerbalMed3]
  • homotaraxasterol [HerbalMed3]
  • phytosterin [EMNMPV.7]
  • Leaves: "Sitosterol (about 60 %) was the most abundant free sterol, followed by stigmasterol (25 %), then campesterol (10 %) in dandelion leaves (Westerman and Roddick 1981)." [EMNMPV.7]


  • "Undefined bitter complex (taraxacin)." [HerbalMed3]


  • Sesquiterpene lactones (bitter substances) [PDR]
    • Taraxinic acid (germacranolide) esterified with glucose. [HerbalMed3]
    • Eudesmanolides. [HerbalMed3]
  • "triterpenoids such as oleanolic and ursolic acids" [EMNMPV.7]
  • "triterpenols such as lupeol, β-amyrin, α-amyrin, taraxasterol and taraxerol" [EMNMPV.7]


  • fructose [HerbalMed3]
  • glucose [HerbalMed3]
  • sucrose [HerbalMed3]


  • b-amyrin [HerbalMed3]
  • taraxol [HerbalMed3]
  • taraxerol [HerbalMed3]


"Dandelions are bitter because of a class of water soluble chemicals called sesquiterpenes. The key to enjoying dandelions is understanding how to work with these chemicals to minimize their impact on your taste buds." [Kallas,2003]

"Sesquiterpenes are part of the milky juice that runs throughout the dandelion plant. They are everywhere except for the non-green flower parts. Sesquiterpenes are less concentrated in rapidly growing leaves..." [Kallas,2003]

"Areas kept relatively wet allow dandelions to continue growing rapidly all year long. Second, the more direct sunlight that bakes a leaf, the more sesquiterpenes develop, even in fast growing leaves. Plants growing in shaded areas or deep grass tend to be less bitter.... In moist rich shaded soil, I have found optimal fresh dandelion leaves all year long. Note that they are still bitter to most normal humans, but not unworkable." [Kallas,2003]

Beta carotene: "Numerous animal studies have suggested that beta carotene can defend against tumors and enhance the immune system. At least 70 studies on humans concluded that humans who don't eat enough fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids have an increased risk of cancer, and lung cancer in particular. One large study... found that individuals with low levels of beta carotene in the blood had a far greater risk of developing lung cancer as well as melanoma, a lethal form of skin cancer. cup of the cooked greens Yields 8.4 milligrams. ...the beta carotene content of dandelion and other foods would be even higher when consumed raw." [Nyerges]

Nutritional Information

Raw Leaves

Nutrient composition of fresh raw dandelion greens (Taraxacum officinale) per 100 g edible portion was reported as follows (UDSDA 2012):

  • water 85.60 g; [EMNMPV.7]
  • energy 45 kcal (188 kJ); [EMNMPV.7]
  • protein 2.70 g; [EMNMPV.7]
  • total lipid (fats) 0.70 g; [EMNMPV.7]
  • ash 1.80 g; [EMNMPV.7]
  • carbohydrate 9.20 g; [EMNMPV.7]
  • fibre (total dietary) 3.5 g; [EMNMPV.7]
  • "minerals (Ca 187 mg, Fe 3.10 mg, Mg 36 mg, P 66 mg, K 397 g, Na 76 mg, Zn 0.41 mg, Cu 0.171 mg, Mn 0.342 mg and Se 0.5 μg); vitamins (vitamin C(ascorbic acid) 35 mg, thiamine 0.190 mg, riboflavin 0.260 mg, niacin 0.806 mg, pantothenic acid 0.084 mg, vitamin B-6 0.251 mg, folate (total) 27 μg, vitamin A 10161 IU, vitamin E (α-tocopherol) 3.44 mg and vitamin K (phylloquinone) 778.4 μg);" [EMNMPV.7]
  • "β-carotene 5,854 μg, α-carotene 363 μg, β-cryptoxanthin 121 μg and lutein + zeaxanthin 13 ,610 μg; total unsaturated fatty acids 0.170 g (14:0 (myristic acid) 0.009 g, 16:0 (palmitic acid) 0.145 g and 18:0 (stearic acid) 0.007 g);" [EMNMPV.7]
  • "total monounsaturated fatty acids 0.014 g, 18:1 (oleic acid) 0.014 g;" [EMNMPV.7]
  • "total polyunsaturated fatty acids 0.306 g, 18:2 undifferentiated (linoleic acid) 0.261 g and 18:3 undifferentiated (linolenic acid) 0.044 g" [EMNMPV.7]
  • " is credited with having much greater fuel value (calories) than the same bulk of most other standard greens (Sanford)..." [DPL Watts]
  • " in protein, fibre and minerals like Ca, Fe, P and K, especially K, vitamin C, vitamin A, β-carotene, α-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin. It is also a good source for vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and vitamin Bs." [EMNMPV.7]
  • "With its iron (and copper) content, it must be good for treating anaemia, and skin complaints, too." [DPL Watts]
  • Vitamin A: 14000iu/100g in leaf. [HerbalMed3]
  • Potassium: "Potassium 4.5% in leaf, 2.45% in root.(3)" [HerbalMed3] Root 12,000-75,000ppm [Downum PPTP]


  • diuretic [EMNMPV.7]
  • choleretic [EMNMPV.7]
  • antiinflammatory [EMNMPV.7]
  • antioxidative [EMNMPV.7]
  • anticarcinogenic [EMNMPV.7]
  • analgesic [EMNMPV.7]
  • antihyperglycaemic [EMNMPV.7]
  • anticoagulatory [EMNMPV.7]
  • demulcent [EMNMPV.7]
  • digestive stimulant [EMNMPV.7]
  • immunomodulatory [EMNMPV.7]
  • insulin stimulant [EMNMPV.7]
  • antiangiogenic [EMNMPV.7]
  • prebiotic [EMNMPV.7]


"Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure."[PFAF]

"A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils[1], though it prefers a well-drained humus-rich neutral to alkaline soil in full sun or light shade[37, 238]. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to at least -29°c[238]. it grows well in a spring meadow[24]. A deep rooting plant, it has roots up to 1 metre long and brings up nutrients from lower levels of the soil[201]. An excellent plant to grow in lawns, if the lawn is cut no more than fortnightly then the dandelions will provide a good quantity of edible leaves[K]. Grows well with alfalfa[18, 201]. Another report says that it inhibits the growth of nearby plants[54]. This is probably a reference to the fact that the plant gives off ethylene gas, this gas is a hormone that promotes the premature ripening of fruits and also induces the premature fruiting of plants, thereby stunting their growth[14, 18]. T. officinale is not a valid name for this species, but no valid name has as yet been ascribed to it[200]. This is actually an aggregate species of many hundreds of slightly differing species. Most seed production is apomictic which means that plants produce seed non-sexually and all seedlings are clones of the parent, thus small differences are maintained."[PFAF]

Alleopathic: The plant releases ethylene gas, this stunts the growth of nearby plants and causes premature ripening of fruits[14, 18]. [PFAF]

Insect Host Plant:


"Seed - sow spring in a cold frame and either surface-sow or only just cover the seed. Make sure the compost does not dry out. Germination should take place within 2 weeks, though 2 weeks cold stratification may improve germination. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle, choosing relatively deep pots to accommodate the tap root. Plant them out in early summer. Division in early spring as the plant comes into growth." [PFAF]

Taraxacum Sp. - Dandelion

"Perennial herb from taproot; sap milky. Stem: 0. Leaf: simple, basal, blades oblong to obovate, oblanceolate or linear-oblanceolate, with large distal lobe or not, ± toothed or pinnately lobed. Inflorescence: heads liguliflorous, 1, scapes unbranched, hollow; involucre cylindric to bell-shaped (urn-shaped in fruit); outer phyllaries (6)8–18(20), graduated in 2–3 series, erect or reflexed, ovate to lanceolate, tips horned or not; main phyllaries 7–25 in 2(3) series, equal, erect, spreading to reflexed in fruit, linear, tips horned or not, margin often scarious, irregularly toothed; receptacle ± flat, glabrous, epaleate. Flower: (15)20–150; ligules yellow, readily withering. Fruit: oblanceoloid to obovoid, with slender beak >> body, 4–12-ribbed, ribs sharply roughened, glabrous; pappus of 50–150, white, slender, minutely barbed bristles.
60(2000) species, many reproducing by asexually produced seeds: Eurasia, North America, South America, ± worldwide as weeds. (Arabic to Persian: bitter herb) [Brouillet 2006 FNANM 19:239–252]" [Jepson]

Local Species;

"The genus Taraxacum has received widely varying treatments in North America. This is not unexpected in a group of plants in which hybridization, polyploidy, and apomixis are active. Some taxonomists (e.g., Ferris 1960, Weber 1967, Welsh 1974, Tayl. and MacBryde 1977, Douglas et al. 1989, Richards 1994, Cody 1996) recognize six or fewer native species (e.g., T. californium Munz. & Johnston, T. ceratophorum, T. eriophorum, T. lyratum, T. phymatocarpum and T. spectabile Dahlst.). Others have recognized 10 or more species (e.g., Fernald 1950, Hulten 1968, Scoggan 1979, Porsild and Cody 1980).... I have recognized only one native Taraxacum species in British Columbia for several reasons. Of all the specimens I examined, only a small number would fit the description of the few species generally recognized. The remainder, when mature, represent an amazing array of variation that is often not repeated between sheets. In addition, most of the subalpine-alpine plants never set seed before the end of the short growing season, thus a key character, the achene, is often unavailable for determination. The time spent by several energetic Scandinavian taxonomists (e.g., G.A.H. Dahlstede, G. Haglund, and A.E. Porsild), formally naming several hundred "microspecies", has not enlightened the taxonomy of the genus...." [IFBC-E-flora]

The following identification key may be used to separate our species:

1. "Native, non-aggressive, high elevation species (except rarely along roads in extreme northern British Columbia)..................T. ceratophorum"

1. "Introduced, aggressive weedy species of disturbed sites."

2. "Achenes red to reddish-brown or reddish-purple at maturity, the beak mostly 1-2 (sometimes 3) times as long as the body; leaves mostly deeply cut for their entire length, without an enlarged terminal segment, the lobes narrow; outer involucral bracts appressed to loose or sometimes reflexed; inner involucral bracts usually horned at the tips............................T. laevigatum"

2. "Achenes olive- or straw-coloured to brown at maturity, the beak mostly 2.5-4 times as long as the body; leaves usually less deeply cut, often with an enlarged terminal lobe; outer involucral bracts reflexed, inner involucral bracts not horned at the tips...........................T. officinale" [IFBC-E-flora]

Taraxacum laevigatum - red-seeded dandelion

Taraxacum laevigatum is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in). It is in flower from Apr to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Apomictic.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

General: Perennial herb from a simple or branched stem-base and a thick, often deep taproot; stems erect, solitary to several, simple, hollow, glabrous or sometimes hairy above, exuding milky juice when broken, 10-60 cm tall.

Leaves: Basal leaves oblanceolate to lanceolate, 5-25 cm long, 1-4 cm wide, tapering basally to a more or less winged stalk, deeply pinnately cut or pinnately divided into backward-pointing, narrow, triangular-lanceolate lobes with segments tapered to a slender tip, the terminal lobe not much larger than the lateral ones, glabrous or nearly so; stem leaves lacking.

Flowers: Heads with strap-shaped flowers, solitary; involucres 10-20 mm tall; involucral bracts in 2 series, the outer ones egg-shaped to lanceolate, appressed to ascending or sometimes reflexed, glabrous or long-hairy, the inner ones lance-oblong, long-pointed, usually horned at the tips; ray flowers yellow, the outer ones often purplish on the outside; disk flowers lacking.

Fruits: Achenes 3-4 mm long, not including the slender beak which is 1 to 2, sometimes 3 times the length of the body, red or reddish-brown, sharply ribbed and conspicuously spiny above; pappus of numerous, 4-7 mm long, white to dull white hairlike bristles.

Habitat / Range
Mesic to dry roadsides, fields, gardens and waste places in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; frequent in S BC; introduced from Europe.

Origin Status: Unlisted

Edible Uses


Uses of Other Species

Taraxacum kok-saghyz

"Scientists there have intensively engaged with this topic there. They succeeded in proving that the rubber extracted from dandelion is of the same quality as its cousin from the rubber tree." [Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft]

"For production, only the Russian variety of our domestic plants can be used. This is the only type that features large quantities of rubber within its white latex sap. It is immense potential hidden inside the dandelion. Compared to the rubber tree, it has three decisive advantages: Its vegetation period only lasts one year, not several years. Afterwards, the plants can be harvested immediately, and be further optimized by breeding. At the same time, it is less vulnerable to pests. And finally, it does not require a subtropical climate and can be planted on domestic croplands." [Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft]

"Taraxacum koksaghyz is a robust plant that can also be cultivated on marginal soils. The cultivation of Russian dandelion thus contributes to a sustainable and ethically harmless resource. The average rubber content in Russian dandelion latex is less than 30 percent [1], the proportion of the dry root mass is about 5 - 10 percent according to own studies." []

"Rubber can be isolated directly from the dandelion roots as a chewing-gum-like substance, but for the production of gloves rubber must be stabilized in its liquid form, the latex. Such products are obtained by dipping moulds in latex. To prevent premature coagulation of the rubber and to maintain its formability, the latex is mixed with stabilizing agents and antioxidants during extraction." []

"Fraunhofer IGB has already developed efficient extraction methods and identified various additives that can be used to prevent agglomeration, the preliminary stage for coagulation. The latex dispersions are to be stabilized in the long term by new combinations of proven agents. In addition, a latex with a rubber content similar to commercially available latices is also targeted." []

Added value through extraction of inulin

"The generation of an ecological and economic added value consists in the extraction of the sugar inulin, which is also contained in the dandelion roots. Inulin is an oligo- or polysaccharide which is used in the food industry as a substitute for sugar and fat as well as a soluble dietary fibre. In the pharmaceutical industry it is relevant as a carrier and stabilizer [2]." []

"Inulin with a low molecular weight or the monosaccharide fructose can in future also be converted in fermentative processes with microorganisms and is used for the production of biobased basic molecules and valuable substances. High molecular weight inulin can be used in food." []

"Taraxacum bicorne is shown to be an outcrossing sexual diploid. Its rubber content is about half of that of T. koksaghyz (~ 3.2% vs. ~ 7.2% of root dry weight), but T. bicorne could be used as a potential rubber source or as a source of germplasm for production of hybrids to improve rubber yield in various environments, because T. bicorne has considerable genetic variation, wider geographical range than T. koksaghyz and grows in different environments." [Zeisek, V., Kirschner]

Steps for Producing Rubber from Dandelion Latex:

  1. Harvesting Dandelions: Collect dandelion roots, leaves, and flower stems. Dandelions produce a milky sap that is the source of the latex.
  2. Extracting Latex: Crush the harvested dandelion roots, leaves, and flower stems, and squeeze out the milky sap. This sap contains the latex needed for rubber production.
  3. Drying the Latex: Allow the milky sap to dry. Once dried, it will turn into a rubber-like product. Note that this rubber will not be as refined as commercial rubber but is still useful for various applications.
  4. Purification: The rubber can be purified by stirring it in warm water. The mixture is then allowed to settle, and the rubber is skimmed off the top.
  5. Vulcanization: This is a process to improve the properties of the rubber. It involves adding sulfur to the rubber and then baking it at a controlled temperature (100°C to 150°C). This reorganizes the hydrocarbon chains in the latex, making the rubber stronger and more durable.
  6. Sulfur Ratio: Use about 2% sulfur to 100 parts of rubber for a product similar to rubber bands. Increasing the sulfur ratio to 3-10% will produce rubber similar to tires.
  7. Alternative Methods: In the past, Morning Glory sap was mixed with dandelion latex to produce a better quality rubber. This could be an option for further refining the rubber. [GPT4]


Page last modified on Wednesday, September 13, 2023 9:47 PM