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Most Viewed Herbs

(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)
Anemone (wood)
House Leek (crassulaceoe)

Least Viewed Herbs

(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)
Anemone (wood)
House Leek (crassulaceoe)


Owing to long years of particular evolutionary sagacity in
developing winged seeds to be wafted from the silky pappus of its
ripe flowerheads over wide areas of land, [148] the Dandelion
exhibits its handsome golden flowers in every field and on every
ground plot throughout the whole of our country. They are to be
distinguished from the numerous hawkweeds, by having the
outermost leaves of their exterior cup bent downwards whilst the
stalk is coloured and shining. The plant-leaves have jagged edges
which resemble the angular jaw of a lion fully supplied with teeth;
or, some writers say, the herb has been named from the heraldic
lion which is vividly yellow, with teeth of gold-in fact, a dandy
lion! Again, the flower closely resembles the sun, which a lion
represents. It is called by some Blowball, Time Table, and Milk
Gowan (or golden).

How like a prodigal does Nature seem,
When thou with all thy gold so common art.

In some of our provinces the herb is known as Wiggers, and
Swinesnout; whilst again in Devon and Cornwall it is called the
Dashelflower. Botanically it belongs to the composite order, and is
named Taraxacum Leontodon, or eatable, and lion-toothed. This
latter when Latinised is dens leonis, and in French dent de
lion. The title Taraxacum is an Arabian corruption of the Greek
trogimon, edible; or it may have been derived from the Greek
taraxos, disorder, and akos, remedy. It once happened
that a plague of insects destroyed the harvest in the island of
Minorca, so that the inhabitants had to eat the wild produce of the
country; and many of them then subsisted for some while entirely
on this plant. The Dandelion, which is a wild sort of Succory, was
known to Arabian physicians, since Avicenna of the eleventh
century mentions it as taraxacon. It is found throughout Europe,
Asia, and North America; possessing a root which abounds with
milky juice, and [149] this varying in character according to the
time of year in which the plant is gathered.

During the winter the sap is thick, sweet, and albuminous; but in
summer time it is bitter and acrid. Frost causes the bitterness to
diminish, and sweetness to take its place; but after the frost this
bitterness returns, and is intensified. The root is at its best for
yielding juice about November. Chemically the active ingredients
of the herb are taraxacin, and taraxacerine, with inulin (a sort of
sugar), gluten, gum, albumen, potash, and an odorous resin, which
is commonly supposed to stimulate the liver, and the biliary
organs. Probably this reputed virtue was assigned at first to the
plant largely on the doctrine of signatures, because of its bright
yellow flowers of a bilious hue. But skilled medical provers who
have experimentally tested the toxical effects of the Dandelion
plant have found it to produce, when taken in excess, troublesome
indigestion, characterized by a tongue coated with a white skin
which peels off in patches, leaving a raw surface, whilst the
kidneys become unusually active, with profuse night sweats and
an itching nettle rash. For these several symptoms when occurring
of themselves, a combination of the decoction, and the medicinal
tincture will be invariably curative.

To make a decoction of the root, one part of this dried, and sliced,
should be gently boiled for fifteen minutes in twenty parts of
water, and strained off when cool. It may be sweetened with
brown sugar, or honey, if unpalatable when taken alone, several
teacupfuls being given during the day. Dandelion roots as
collected for the market are often adulterated with those of the
common Hawkbit (Leontodon hispidus); but these are more
tough and do not give out any milky juice.

[150] The tops of the roots dug out of the ground, with the tufts of
the leaves remaining thereon, and blanched by being covered in
the earth as they grow, if gathered in the spring, are justly
esteemed as an excellent vernal salad. It was with this homely fare
the good wise Hecate entertained Theseus, as we read in Evelyn's
Acetaria. Bergius says he has seen intractable cases of liver
congestion cured, after many other remedies had failed, by the
patients taking daily for some months, a broth made from
Dandelion roots stewed in boiling water, with leaves of Sorrel, and
the yelk of an egg; though (he adds) they swallowed at the same
time cream of tartar to keep their bodies open.

Incidentally with respect to the yelk of an egg, as prescribed here,
it is an established fact that patients have been cured of obstinate
jaundice by taking a raw egg on one or more mornings while
fasting. Dr. Paris tells us a special oil is to be extracted from the
yelks (only) of hard boiled eggs, roasted in pieces in a frying pan
until the oil begins to exude, and then pressed hard. Fifty eggs well
fried will yield about five ounces of this oil, which is acrid, and so
enduringly liquid that watch-makers use it for lubricating the axles
and pivots of their most delicate wheels. Old eggs furnish the oil
most abundantly, and it certainly acts as a very useful medicine for
an obstructed liver. Furthermore the shell, when finely triturated,
has served by its potentialised lime to cure some forms of cancer.
Sweet are the uses of adversity! even such as befell the egg
symbolised by Humpty-Dumpty:--

Humptius in muro requievit Dumptius alto,
Humptius e muro Dumptius--heu! cecidit!
Sed non Regis equi, Reginae exercitus omnis
Humpti, te, Dumpti, restituere loco.

[151] The medicinal tincture of Dandelion is made from the entire
plant, gathered in summer, employing proof spirit which dissolves
also the resinous parts not soluble in water. From ten to fifteen
drops of this tincture may be taken with a spoonful of water three
times in the day.

Of the freshly prepared juice, which should not be kept long as it
quickly ferments, from two to three teaspoonfuls are a proper
dose. The leaves when tender and white in the spring are taken on
the Continent in salads or they are blanched, and eaten with bread
and butter. Parkinson says: Whoso is drawing towards a
consumption, or ready to fall into a cachexy, shall find a
wonderful help from the use thereof, for some time together.
Officially, according to the London College, are prepared from the
fresh dried roots collected in the autumn, a decoction (one ounce
to a pint of boiling water), a juice, a fresh extract, and an
inspissated liquid extract.

Because of its tendency to provoke involuntary urination at night,
the Dandelion has acquired a vulgar suggestive appellation which
expresses this fact in most homey terms: quasi herba lectiminga,
et urinaria dicitur: and this not only in our vernacular, but in most
of the European tongues: quia plus lotii in vesicam derivat quam
puerulis retineatur proesertim inter dormiendum, eoque tunc
imprudentes et inviti stragula permingunt.

At Gottingen, the roots are roasted and used instead of coffee by
the poorer folk; and in Derbyshire the juice of the stalk is applied
to remove warts. The flower of the Dandelion when fully blown is
named Priest's Crown (Caput monachi), from the resemblance
of its naked receptacle after the winged seeds have been all blown
away, to the smooth shorn head of a Roman [152] cleric. So
Hurdis sings in his poem The Village Curate:--

The Dandelion this:
A college youth that flashes for a day
All gold: anon he doffs his gaudy suit,
Touched by the magic hand of Bishop grave,
And all at once by commutation strange
Becomes a reverend priest: and then how sleek!
How full of grace! with silvery wig at first
So nicely trimmed, which presently grows bald.
But let me tell you, in the pompous globe
Which rounds the Dandelion's head is fitly couched
Divinity most rare.

Boys gather the flower when ripe, and blow away the hall of its
silky seed vessels at the crown, to learn the time of day, thus
sportively making:--

Dandelion with globe of down
The school-boy's clock in every town.

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