Classif. Nat. Order of Cichoracea. Syngenesia Equalis L.
Genus LEONTODON. Perianthe, or common calyx double, both polyphylle, many ligular florets, phoranthe naked, pappus stipitate and plumose.
Sp. Leontodon taraxacum. L. Outer calyx reflexed, scapes fistulose and one-flowered, leaves runcinate, with toothed divisions.
Description. It is a perennial plant, with the leaves all radical, smooth, oblong, and acute, cut up on the sides in a runcinate form, sometimes almost pinnatifid, the divisions acute, toothed, unequal, like teeth of a large saw, sinusses acute, only one large mid rib; scapes or radical naked stems erect, from six to eighteen inches high, cylindric, fistulose, smooth, milky when broken, bearing only one blossom, and growing in length while the blossom unfolds and decays. The two perianthes have lanceolate acute sepals, the outer ones shorter, lax, and spreading or reflexed, the inner one closely erect. Florets yellow, numerous, unequal, tigular, with five teeth; succeeded by black seeds, bearing a white stipitate plumose pappus, forming a spherical ball.
History. This well known plant is common to Europe, Asia, and America, in pastures and meadows; it is spread all over the United States, and is really a native, not introduced. It blossoms during the whole year in succession from April to October. Although deemed a weed, it is not injurious. It spreads very fast by its seeds borne to a great distance by winds. Children use the seed-balls for playthings, as they may be blown off at a single blast. The name of Dandelion derives from dent de lion, an old French name, meaning lion's tooth. The leaves were compared to lion's teeth by the Greeka and Romans. It affords many varieties: 1. Laciniata. 2. Sinuata. 3. Lanceolata. 4. Polyphylla. 5. Uniflora. 6. Longifolia, &c.
Properties. Deobstruent, diuretic, hepatic, subtonic, corroborant, aperient, &c. The taste is slightly bitter, but not unpleasant; the leaves and root may be used. They contain a green resin, fecula, sugar, nitrate of potash and of lime, acetate of lime, &c. An excellent popular remedy for liver complaints, obstructions, jaundice, dropsy, hypochondria, &c. The most usual way is to eat the leaves in salad in the spring; they may be bleached like Endive, and in the same way. The juice of the leaves is also used, and their extract is very efficient. It promotes all the secretions, and removes obstructions of the viscera and glands. It is an excellent diet for scrofulous, dropsical, and hypochondrical patients. It has been used in induration of the liver, gravel, itch, impetegines, dyspepsia, and consumption. In this last, it acts only as a mild deobstruent. It is very good for the spleen. The milky juice of the stems removes freckles of the skin.
Medical Flora, or Manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of North America, Vol. 2, 1830, was written by C. S. Rafinesque.