What we grow - Biodiversity



The common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a flowering plant (Angiosperm) belonging to the Asteraceae family. The specific officinal epithet indicates its medicinal virtues, known since ancient times and exploited with the use of its roots and leaves. The plant is called “dandelion” due to the toothed shape of the leaves. The official name comes from the Greek “tarakè”, that is “confusion”, and “akos”, that is “remedy”, as it is capable of putting the organism back in order. Finally, there is a last name by which it is known (In Italy) “piscialetto”, given to it for its diuretic properties. In Sicilian it is called with the vulgar name of “cardiḍḍa”.


It is a herbaceous and perennial plant, 10-30 centimeters tall. It has a large taproot root from which it develops with a basal rosette at ground level and leaves with short and underground stems. The leaves are simple, oblong, lanceolate and lobed, with a toothed margin. The stem, which later evolves from the leaves, glabrous and milky, bearing a golden-yellow inflorescence at the apex, formed by two rows of membranous bracts, on which hundreds of small flowers, called “flosculi” are inserted. Each flower is hermaphroditic and ligulate in shape, that is, it has an inferior tubular portion from which an extension (Ligula) composed of petals extends. Flowering occurs in spring for the most part in April-May but can be extended until autumn. Pollination is usually entomogamous, through pollinating insects, but it can also occur thanks to the wind. From each flower an achene develops, an indehiscent dry fruit, without endosperm and provided with the characteristic pappus: a tuft of white hair, originating from the modified calyx which, acting like a parachute, facilitates the dispersion of the seed with the wind, once it has detached.


The dandelion contains various bioactive substances and active principles variously distributed between roots and leaves. The latter are rich in flavonoids (Lutein), Vitamins (A, C), Potassium and some antioxidant mineral salts. The roots, on the other hand, contain fructose and inulin, while the plant is rich in bitter substances capable of stimulating the functions of bile, facilitating and improving digestion, increasing the secretion of the glands of the digestive system, and stimulating the production of saliva and gastric and pancreatic juices. Its flavonoids act at the level of the kidneys, increasing urine production and facilitating the elimination of excess fluids, toxins and waste substances. Dandelion is used to make a spring salad, either on its own or with other vegetables. Flower petals can also help add flavor and color to mixed salads. The buds are appreciable if prepared in oil or vinegar, while the flowers can be prepared in batter and fry. The tender basal rosettes can be eaten both boiled and then seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, and in a pan with garlic. The flowers are also used for the preparation of “dandelion syrup”, often erroneously defined as “dandelion honey”. With the roasted roots you can prepare dandelion coffee, a substitute that maintains the taste and digestive properties to some extent, similar to barley coffee and chicory coffee. It is a plant of considerable interest in beekeeping, which provides bees with both pollen and nectar, and an excellent mono-floral honey can be obtained, which crystallizes quickly enough.


The dandelion grows spontaneously in the lowland areas up to an altitude of 2000 meters (A.S.L.). It is a typical plant of the temperate climate, preferring more a loose soil and open, sunny spaces. In Italy it grows everywhere and can be easily found in meadows, uncultivated land, along paths and along roadsides.