The Latin name Taraxacum originates in medieval Persian writings on pharmacy. The Persian scientist Al-Razi around 900 CE wrote “the tarashaquq is like chicory”. The Persian scientist and philosopher Ibn Sīnā around 1000 CE wrote a book chapter on Taraxacum. Gerard of Cremona, in translating Arabic to Latin around 1170, spelled it tarasacon.
The English name, dandelion, is a corruption of the French dent de lion meaning “lion’s tooth”, referring to the coarsely toothed leaves. The plant is also known as blowball, cankerwort, doon-head-clock, witch’s gowan, milk witch, lion’s-tooth, yellow-gowan, Irish daisy, monks-head, priest’s-crown, and puff-ball; other common names include faceclock, pee-a-bed, wet-a-bed, swine’s snout, white endive, and wild endive.
The English folk name “piss-a-bed” (and indeed the equivalent contemporary French pissenlit) refers to the strong diuretic effect of the plant’s roots. In various northeastern Italian dialects, the plant is known as pisacan (“dog pisses“), because they are found at the side of pavements.
In Swedish, it is called maskros (worm rose) after the small insects (thrips) usually present in the flowers. In Finnish and Estonian, the names (voikukka, võilill) translate as butter flower, due to the color of the flower. In Lithuanian, it is known as “Pienė”, meaning “milky”, because of the white latex that is produced when the stems are cut. The Danish name mælkebøtte (sometimes fandens mælkebøtte) means “milk bin” (“the devils milk bin”) and also refers to the milky latex (and its ability to spread). The Welsh (dant-y-llew), German (Löwenzahn), Norwegian (løvetann), Portuguese (dente de leão) and Spanish (diente de león) names mean the same as the French and the English names. In Czech it is known as pampeliška where the “liška” part directly translates to a “fox”, possibly due to the colour of the flower.
Raw dandelion greens contain high amounts of vitamins A, C, and K, and are moderate sources of calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese. Raw dandelion greens are 86% water, 9% carbohydrates, 3% protein, and 1% fat. A 100 gram (3 1⁄2oz) reference amount supplies 45 calories.
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