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LEONTODON TARAXACUM. DANDELION.
Class ,XIX. Syngenesia. Order I. Polygamia Jequalis.
Gen. Char. Receptacle naked. Calyx double. Papus stipitate and hairy.
Spe. Char. Outer calyx reflect. Scape one-flowered. Leaves runcinate, smooth, with tooth-lobes.
The Dandelion is a very common plant, and is to be found in most parts of the United States, growing in meadows and pastures, and flowering from April to August. The root is perennial and spindle-shaped, which, with the whole plant, abounds with a milky juice; the flower-stalk is simple, colored, shining, and unifloral; the leaves are all radical and cut in a peculiar way, forming a good example of what botanists call runcinata; the seeds, on approaching to maturity, become crowned with a fine downy feather, disposed in a spherical shape. The young leaves of this plant are very much used in the spring as a pot-herb; in some parts of Europe the roots are roasted and substituted for coffee by the poorer inhabitants, who find that an infusion prepared in this way can hardly be distinguished from that of the coffee-berry. The root, when dry, is very much wrinkled, shrunk, and brittle, and on being broken presents a shining resinous fracture; it has a sweetish bitter, herbaceous taste, and yields its medical prop erties to boiling water.
Medical Properties and Uses. Dandelion is generally con sidered by medical writers as the most active and efficacious of th V
lactescent plants; the expressed juice is bitter and somewhat acrid; the root, however, is still more bitter, and possesses greater medicinal power than any other part of the plant. Taraxacum has long been in repute as a mild detergent and aperient; it is also diuretic and tonic, and has a direct action upon the liver and kidneys, exciting them when languid, to action. It is most applicable to hepatic diseases, and derangement of the digestive organs generally. In chronic inflammations of the liver and spleen, in cases of deficient biliary secretions, and in dropsical affections of the abdominal viscera, it is capable of being very beneficial if properly applied; from experience I can speak in its favor. Howard, in his Materia Medica, says he has usefl it in pulmonary diseases and found it an invaluable remedy. He believes that if ever any one article cures a confirmed consumption, it will prove to be this. Possessed of such active and extensive medical properties, it may be so managed in its exhibition as to produce almost any effect to any extent desired on any function, tissue, or set of organs in the animal machine. Rafinesque says that the milky juice of the stem of this plant removes freckles from the skin.
It is usually given in the form of extract, decoction, or syrup. The syrup is made by boiling one pound of dried root in one gallon of water down to two quarts. Strain off, and add while warm one pound of loaf sugar, and one pint of good spirits. Dose—half a wineglassful three times a day.