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dandelionIn Ancient Crete, if you didn’t already know, the half-man, half-bull beast, Minotaur had a taste for the blood of young citizens with which he was supplied regularly by King Minos. Of course such a thing couldn’t stand for long and so Hecate, the goddess of the knowledge of herbs fed the heroic Theseus Taraxacum (dandelion) greens for 30 days before sending him into the monster’s maze. Like Popeye, Theseus knocked out his foe with the help of these iron rich leafy greens and forever after, the island was free of this particular terror.

First Nations People of what is now called the Americas used this helpful flower to treat acne, eczema, and hives. At the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi, Pillager Ojibwe (also known as the Chippewa) made Taraxacum tea to alleviate heartburn while in the Isle of mannahatta the Lenape gave the anemic its leaves to chew.

Meanwhile in China, medical practitioners were boiling this plant, which their language calls Pu Gong Ying, into tea to treat any number of ailments including toxins in the blood, appendicitis, and abscesses. Not to mention digestive diseases that block urine flow, which is why in Canada, where the plant is officially registered as a diuretic, it’s commonly referred to as the bed-wetting weed. This by the way is the slightly nicer translation from one Middle French term for the plant, pissenlit or piss-a-bed.

Speaking of names, the nomenclatures for Taraxacum are about as prolific as the plant itself and include, but are not limited to:  blowball, cankerwort, witch’s gowan, milk witch, yellow-gowan, Irish daisy, worm rose, monks-head, priest’s-crown, puff-ball, doon-head-clock, faceclock, tell time, swine’s snout, and wild endive. Our common name for the plant, dandelion, is itself a corruption of another French term, dent de lion, or lion’s tooth, referring to the plant’s jagged leaves.

Regardless of its ancient mythology, medical uses, and many names, any child in the world knows what dandelions are for. You can find these little wish factories growing just about anywhere.

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