Dandelion [Fr, dent-de-lion, "lion's tooth"], perennial, herbaceous plant of family Compositae or Asteraceae. Over 1000 species have been named. Because dandelions reproduce without fertilization, innumerable variants have arisen. Common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) has many names including blowball, faceclock, dumble-dor (Newfoundland) and pissenlit (Québec). Each mature flowerhead produces approximately 180 wind-dispersed, seedlike achenes. Preferring moist, grassy places and disturbed sites, dandelions occur from sea level to subalpine elevations.
This European native has become a tenacious farm and garden weed. However, its golden yellow flowers provide nectar for innumerable pollinating insects; its achenes, food for many birds. Much of the plant is edible. Leaves are high in vitamin A, iron, phosphorus, calcium and potassium, and are among the best sources of copper known. Valued for its medicinal properties, the dandelion has been used to stimulate the kidneys and to combat liver disorders, weak digestion, anemia and eczema.