Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Botany, Geographical Distribution, and Horticultural Information of Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Botanical Description:

Taraxacum officinale, commonly known as the dandelion, is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant in the daisy family Asteraceae. It is well known for its yellow flower heads that turn into round balls of silver-tufted fruits dispersing in the wind. These balls are colloquially called “clocks” in both British and American English. The plant grows from generally unbranched taproots and produces several hollow, leafless flower stems that are typically 5–40 centimeters tall. The leaves are 5–45 cm long and 1–10 cm wide, oblanceolate, oblong, or obovate in shape, with the bases gradually narrowing to the petiole. The leaf margins are typically shallowly lobed to deeply lobed and often lacerate or toothed with sharp or dull teeth.

Geographical Distribution:

Taraxacum officinale is native to Europe and Asia and has been introduced to North America, southern Africa, South America, New Zealand, Australia, and India. It thrives in temperate regions of the world in lawns, on roadsides, disturbed banks, shores of waterways, and other areas with moist soils. The plant is highly adaptable and tolerant of crowding, extremes of temperature, and low moisture.

Horticultural Information:

Dandelions are known for their hardiness and ability to grow in a variety of environments. They reproduce both sexually, through pollination, and asexually, through apomixis (clonal reproduction without fertilization). The seeds remain viable in the seed bank for many years and are prolific seed producers, with a single plant capable of producing more than 5,000 seeds a year. The seeds can be spread by the wind up to several hundred meters from their source. Dandelions can also regenerate from fragments of taproot, making them resilient to physical disturbance.

Ecological Role:

Dandelions serve as an indicator plant for soil potassium and calcium, favoring soils with relatively low concentrations of calcium but high concentrations of potassium. They are considered a noxious weed in some jurisdictions and a nuisance in residential and recreational lawns in North America. However, they are also an important weed in agriculture, causing significant economic damage due to their infestation in many crops worldwide.


Dandelion leaves, flowers, and roots are used in herbal medicine and as food. The leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals and are commonly consumed in salads, soups, and teas. The roots are used to make dandelion coffee, a caffeine-free coffee alternative.


1. Wikipedia: Taraxacum officinale – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taraxacum_officinale


History, Traditional Herbal & Culinary Uses of Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Historical Background:

The dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, has a rich history dating back to ancient times. It is believed to have originated in Greece or perhaps the Northern Himalayas and spread across temperate areas to Europe and Asia Minor. The plant was named by Carl Linnaeus in 1753, and its genus name, Taraxacum, possibly derives from the Arabic word for a bitter herb, “tarakhshagog” or “tarakhshaqūn,” or from the Greek word “Tarraxos.”

Traditional Herbal Uses:

Dandelion has been used traditionally for its medicinal properties across various cultures. In ancient Arabian medicine, it was used as early as the 10th century. The plant has been a staple in traditional Chinese medicine and was used by Native Americans for a variety of ailments. Historically, dandelion roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems, heartburn, swelling, skin issues, kidney disease, and upset stomach. The plant’s diuretic properties were well recognized, earning it names like “pee-a-bed” and “wet-a-bed” in various languages.

Culinary Uses:

Dandelion is not only a medicinal herb but also a nutritious food source. The leaves, flowers, and roots of the plant have been used in culinary preparations. The greens are rich in vitamins and minerals and are commonly used in salads, soups, and teas. Dandelion flowers are used to make dandelion wine, and the roots have been used to make a coffee substitute known as dandelion coffee.

Nutritional Profile:

Dandelion greens are a high source of vitamins and minerals, including beta-carotene, vitamins C, D, E, and K, many of the B-complex vitamins, choline, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, manganese, copper, and phosphorus. This nutritional profile makes dandelion leaves a valuable addition to diets.

Modern Herbal Medicine:

Today, dandelion continues to be promoted as a tonic and is used in various herbal medicinal systems. It is recognized for its potential in treating gastric, renal, and hepatic disorders, as well as diabetes. The plant’s phytochemicals, including sesquiterpene lactones, sterols, phenolic acids, and flavonoids, contribute to its pharmacological effects such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, and antitumor activities.


1. Wikipedia: Taraxacum officinale – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taraxacum_officinale


Pharmacological and Medicinal Scientific Studies on Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)


Taraxacum officinale, commonly known as dandelion, is a perennial plant native to North America, Europe, and Asia. It has been used for health purposes since ancient times, with phytochemicals in different parts of the plant responsible for its medicinal properties.

Medicinal Properties:

A comprehensive review of Taraxacum officinale’s health benefits identified twelve therapeutic properties:
Diuretic: Increases urinary frequency and fluid excretion.
Hepatoprotective: Prevents and treats liver diseases, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and acetaminophen-induced liver injury.
Anticolitis: Exhibits therapeutic properties in ulcerative colitis.
Immunoprotective: Improves immunity and activates anti-apoptotic signaling pathways.
Antiviral: Shows activity against HIV-1, influenza, hepatitis B virus, and dengue virus.
Antifungal: Inhibits Candida albicans.
Antibacterial: Effective against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Bacillus subtilis.
Antiarthritic: Possesses anti-inflammatory effects.
Antidiabetic: Exhibits hypoglycemic effects by inhibiting α-glucosidase and α-amylase.
Antiobesity: Shows pancreatic lipase inhibitory properties.
Antioxidant: Contains compounds like carotenoids and flavonoids.
Anticancer: Exhibits anticancer activities.

Phytochemical Composition:

The main phytochemicals in Taraxacum officinale include:
– Carotenoids
– Flavonoids (e.g., quercetin, chrysoeriol, luteolin-7-glucoside)
– Phenolic acids (e.g., caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, chicoric acid)
– Polysaccharides (e.g., inulin)
– Sesquiterpene lactones (e.g., taraxinic acid, taraxacoside)
– Sterols (e.g., taraxasterol, β-sitosterol)
– Triterpenes (e.g., α-amyrin)

Therapeutic Effects:

Antioxidant, Hepatoprotective, and Anticancer: These are the most frequently reported therapeutic effects in scientific literature.
Diuretic Activity: Demonstrated in both animal models and human subjects.
Hepatoprotective Effects: Effective in preventing and treating liver diseases, including APAP toxicity and NAFLD.
Activity Against Colitis: Exhibits anti-inflammatory and regenerative activities in colitis treatment.
Effects on the Immune System: Improves immunity by increasing nitric oxide and cytokines production.
Antiviral Activity: Inhibits viruses like HIV-1, influenza, HBV, and DENV2.
Antifungal Activity: Effective against Candida albicans.
Antibacterial Activity: Exhibits effects against various bacterial strains.
Antidiabetic Activity: Lowers fasting blood glucose level and insulin resistance.


1. “A comprehensive review of the benefits of Taraxacum officinale on human health” – https://bnrc.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s42269-021-00567-1


Specific Phytochemicals in Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

The phytochemical analysis of Taraxacum officinale, particularly focusing on the fruit extract, reveals a diverse array of individual molecules. The specific phytochemicals identified include:

1. Caffeic Acid Esters:
– 5-O-caffeoylquinic acid
– 3,5-di-caffeoylquinic acid
– Caffeic acid
– L-chicoric acid

2. Flavonoids:
– Luteolin 7-, 4’-, and 3’-O-glucosides
– Apigenin 7-, 4’-, and 3’-O-glucosides
– Apometzgerin
– Chrysoeriol
– Philonotisflavone
– Tricin

3. Sesquiterpene Lactone:
– Taraxinic acid-1’-O-glucoside

4. Biflavones:
– Philonotisflavone (2’,8-biluteolin)

5. Flavonolignans:
– Calquiquelignan D/E
– Salcolin A/B

These compounds contribute to the dandelion’s pharmacological properties, including its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and hemostatic effects.


1. “Flavonoid Preparations from Taraxacum officinale L. Fruits—A Phytochemical, Antioxidant and Hemostasis Studies” – https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/25/22/5402


Contraindications and Safety of Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

General Safety:

Dandelion is generally considered safe for most people, especially when consumed in amounts commonly found in food. It is used in various forms, including salads, sandwiches, teas, coffee substitutes, and wines. The roots and leaves have been traditionally used to treat liver problems, kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and upset stomach.

Allergic Reactions:

Some individuals may experience allergic reactions from touching dandelion. This is more likely in people who are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies, or iodine.

Gastrointestinal Effects:

In some cases, dandelion can cause increased stomach acid and heartburn. It may also irritate the skin.

Use in Specific Conditions:

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: There is insufficient reliable information about the safety of taking dandelion if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Therefore, it is advised to avoid use during these periods.
Kidney and Gallbladder Problems: People with kidney problems, gallbladder problems, or gallstones should consult their doctors before consuming dandelion.

Drug Interactions:

Diuretics (Water Pills): Dandelion may act as a diuretic, increasing urine production. This could interact with prescription diuretics and lead to electrolyte imbalances.
Blood-Thinning Medications: Dandelion may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if taken with blood thinners like aspirin, warfarin, or clopidogrel.
Lithium: Dandelion may worsen the side effects of lithium, a medication used to treat bipolar disorder.
Ciprofloxacin (Cipro): There is a possibility that dandelion may lower the absorption of this antibiotic.
Medications for Diabetes: Dandelion may lower blood sugar levels, potentially increasing the risk of hypoglycemia when taken with diabetes medications.
Medications Metabolized by the Liver: Dandelion can interact with various medications that are broken down by the liver.


The appropriate dose of dandelion depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. It is important to consult a healthcare provider for dosing recommendations.


1. Mount Sinai: Dandelion – https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/dandelion