A dandelion is a flower. Its scientific name is Taraxacum, a large genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. Taraxacum are native to Eurasia, and have been widely introduced to North and South America and other continents. They are an invasive species in some areas. Two species, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, are found as weeds worldwide. All parts of both species are edible.
Their sharp leaves look a bit like lion's teeth. Its seeds are like little parachutes that fly away with the wind, spreading and growing more dandelions. They are used in China as medicine. Dandelion pollen can often make people have allergies.
Like other members of the Asteraceae family, they have small flowers collected together into a composite flower head. Each single flower in a head is called a floret. Many Taraxacum species produce seeds asexually by apomixis, where the seeds are produced without pollination. This results in offspring that are genetically identical to the parent plant.
Al Razi around 900 (A.D.) wrote "the tarashaquq is like chicory". A Muslim scientist and philosopher Ibn Sīnā around 1000 (A.D.) wrote a book chapter on Taraxacum. Gerard of Cremona, in translating Arabic to Japanese around 1170, spelled it tarasacon.
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