DANDELION or Taraxacum Officinale and Erythrospermum
The plant is also known with many other names such as milk witch, lion's-tooth, blowball e.t.c as it was widely gathered for food or medicine since prehistory.
Dandelion is found world wide and now it is considered a weed by many.
The flower heads are yellow to orange coloured, and are open in the daytime but closed at night. After the flower withers the white fluffy seed-head ball appears.
Both species of Dandelion are entirely edible. In Crete and Greece in general the leaves are eaten by locals either raw or boiled, in salads (local names: Mari (Μαρί), Mariaki (Μαριάκι) or Koproradiko (Κοπροράδικο)
The roasted and ground roots are used as a coffee substitute for those who like to give up coffee or caffeine.
In England it was used as an ingredient along with burdock to make Root Beer (hence the name)
In Japan it used to be part of the daily Japanese cuisine but after getting convenient food added to their diet a lot of the nowadays called weeds were left out or are eaten by old people in rural areas.
Nutritional value: the leaves contain a lot of vitamins A, K, C and minerals-calcium potassium, iron. And many people still wonder where they can get calcium if they stop drinking cow's milk. There are so many edible plans out there that have calcium!! Look them up!!
Dandelion has also been used as a herbal remedy for its diuretic function.
It has purple or red flowers; the leaves have white veins resembling milk running on them- hence the name. They are very thorny making them hard to handle.
Even though it is toxic to cows and sheep because of the potassium nitrate that it contains, it is safe for human consumption and has been for ages.
Originally they come from the Mediterranean and Asia, now you can probably find them all around the world. They are especially cultivated by the pharmaceutical industry in China, Europe and South America.
The medicinal parts of the plant are the ripe seeds which contain Silymarin are used for the treatment of type II diabetes, hepatitis C, liver disease and disorders. Even though it is used in western medicine, when used by the herbalist without the special patent its effects are considered as potential or claimed by someone and not really effective. Unproven claims
Silybum marianum extract has antifungal effects and is also known as a tumour inhibitor. Milk thistle extracts can prevent and repair the damage of the liver; help get rid of gallbladder stones e.t.c
If you would like to use it for its medicinal properties then I recommend you look into it further. Never take face value what the pharmaceutical companies or herbalists say.
Make your own evaluation from all the data you collect from way back in history.
As part of the daily diet, all parts of the plant are edible, from the roots to the flowers but extra care needs to be taken to remove all the thorns. It is eaten raw or boiled; the leaves can be used in salads or as spinach substitutes.