The dandelion is a perennial, herbaceous plant with long, lance-shaped dandelion leaves. They're so deeply toothed, they gave the plant its name in Old French: Dent-de-lion means lion's tooth in Old French. The leaves are 3 to 12" long, and 1/2 to 2-1/2" wide, always growing in a basal rosette.
The dandelion is hated by men who strive for a golf-course swath of grass in their yards. But is also a herald of spring beloved by children. Children around the world delight in presenting their mothers with tight-fisted bouquets of vivid yellow and love to blow the o’clocks on the puffy seed heads. If the delight of children is not reason enough to appreciate the common dandelions, the medicinal benefits and culinary applications of this carefree plant ought to garner grudging respect.
Dandelions are very good to eat and dandelion tea is a common drink made from the roots and leaves. Learn more about dandelions for food and drink.
Looking at the common names for the dandelion gives insight into the roles it has played in horticultural imagination. It is also known as Pee in the Bed, Lions Teeth, Fairy Clock, Clock, Clock Flowers, Clocks and Watches, Farmers Clocks, Old Mans Clock, One Clock, Wetweed, Blowball, Cankerwort, Lionstooth, Priests Crown, Puffball, Swinesnout, White Endive, Wild Endive and Pissa-a-beds.
The name we know it by, dandelion, comes from Dents Lioness, medieval Latin, or Dent de Lion, French, both meaning tooth of the lion.
The dandelion’s use as a medicinal herb reaches far back into Chinese history. The Arabs were the next to recognize its usefulness and wrote about it around the 11th century. It was they who taught Europeans about its medicinal benefits.
An important plant for bees, not only is their flowering used as an indicator that the honey bee season is starting, but they are also an important source of nectar and pollen early in the season to produce dandelion honey.