Dandelions (Taraxacum) are found throughout much of the United States and in some European countries. They are also cultivated in some countries such as India.  

You probably know that all parts of the dandelion are edible.   The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked (steamed, fried, boiled, etc.) as a vegetable.  You can make tea with the roots and the flowers.   Or, maybe dandelion wine or jelly is more to your taste.  

The plant also purportedly treats many types of ailments.  For example, dandelions are consumed act as a diuretic.  They may also remove toxins from your liver.   The plants boast 25 times more Vitamin A than tomato juice.   These can be a beneficial addition to your diet if you collect them from a safe source.  

Additionally, dandelions contribute some surprising scientific insights.   Russian and European researchers use dandelions to create a new type of rubber.   The team is now developing a previously unknown process to manufacture this natural form of rubber.  This new type of rubber may replace that which currently comes from rubber trees in Southeast Asia, where they are under threat from a fungus.  

The plants, or rather their seed-heads, are influencing physics too.  Those fluffy white seeds disperse in a way that helps physicists to understand how to improve parachute performance.  The seeds have a high drag rate without compromising stability, yet they contain minimal structure.  The seeds are a nature engineering marvel.  Some of the knowledge will influence future drone design and the design of other aircraft. 

Finally, dandelions are good for your lawn.  Their roots aerate the soil by breaking up hard-packed earth.   Further, those long roots help to stabilize the land and prevent erosion.  So please don’t disdain the dandelions and don’t destroy them with weedkiller.  Instead, admire or even consume them!

Sources:

More about dandelions as food and medicine — https://www.mofga.org/resources/weeds/ten-things-you-might-not-know-about-dandelions/

https://georgiawildlife.com/out-my-backdoor-defense-dandelions

More about dandelion rubber – https://www.tum.de/nc/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/32382/

More about physics of dandelion seed dispersal – https://www.newswise.com/articles/the-physics-behind-dandelion-seed-plume-dispersal-revealed

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