Traditional and Modern Use of Dandelion

Once a cure-all of herbal medicine dandelion (Taraxcum officinalis) later became a nuisance to be vigorously dug up by gardeners.

Today the dandelion is enjoying a comeback as a cosmopolitan weed used in various herbal remedies and culinary dishes worldwide.

Throughout literature, the dandelion’s bold beauty has drawn representations of the sun and of the lion.

Its common name may derive from the French dent de lion, lion’s tooth, and earlier from the Latin dens leonis, which may be due to its long white tap root, the sunny hue of its flower, or its jagged teeth-like leaves.

Mrs Grieve casts doubt on popular theories of the dandelion’s animal symbolism in her famous A Modern Herbal.

Grieve suggests the leaves resemble more a lion’s open jaw than a single tooth, whereas its long white root is suggestive of a fang and its yellow flowers could represent the golden teeth of the heraldic lion.

Scientific name: Taraxacum officinale
Family: Compositae

How to Use Dandelion

Young leaves go well in salads. They can be boiled briefly, sautéed, steamed, etc.

The young first-year roots can be sliced thinly and eaten raw with a little salt. They can also be boiled or roasted. Note: It is illegal to dig up roots without landowner’s consent.

Flowers are used to make alcoholic beverages. Roots used in liqueurs. The roots can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute (see recipe below).

Dandelion is one the main ingredients in Norfolk Punch, a non-alcoholic crafted by monks in Norfolk.

Unopened flower buds have been pickled in the past and used as a caper substitute. They can be added to omelettes and pancakes.

An Arabic cake called Yublo makes use of the flowers.

Leaves and roots are used as a bitter tonic tea.

For a food colouring, try using the pollen.

Dandelion Recipes

More About Dandelion

4 thoughts on “Traditional and Modern Use of Dandelion

  1. Lovely, thanks for the fascinating information and the delicious recipes, Robin! Young dandelion leaves are the perfect partner with cheese for a yummy granary sandwich.

  2. Lots of great research on the anti-cancer properties of Dandelion!

    Chatterjee, S. J., Ovadje, P., Mousa, M., Hamm, C., & Pandey, S. (2011). The Efficacy of Dandelion Root Extract in Inducing Apoptosis in Drug-Resistant Human Melanoma Cells. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2011, e129045.

    News, C. (n.d.-a). Cancer-killing dandelion tea gets $157K research grant. Retrieved May 3, 2017, from

    News, C. (n.d.-b). Researcher honoured for work on anti-cancer properties of dandelions. Retrieved June 23, 2017, from

    Ovadje, P. (2014, January 1). Anticancer Activity of Natural Health Products (Dandelion Root & Long Pepper Extracts); Extensive Study Of Efficacy And Mechanism Of Action. University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario. Retrieved from

    Ovadje, P., Ammar, S., Guerrero, J.-A., Arnason, J. T., & Pandey, S. (2016). Dandelion root extract affects colorectal cancer proliferation and survival through the activation of multiple death signalling pathways. Oncotarget, 7(45), 73080–73100.

    Ovadje, P., Chatterjee, S., Griffin, C., Tran, C., Hamm, C., & Pandey, S. (2011). Selective induction of apoptosis through activation of caspase-8 in human leukemia cells (Jurkat) by dandelion root extract. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 133(1), 86–91.

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