The Dandelion, like the Daisy, scarcely needs to be described. It is known from one end of our great country to the other, and, notwithstanding its exceeding abundance, the first bright, solitary flowers are always a welcome sight in the spring. Children love to split the smooth, hollow flower stem with their tongues, and make long, spiral curls and ribbons. They also use them for blowing soap-bubbles, and for sipping water from a spring, or by blowing through them, produce funny noises. They have rare fun foretelling the number of children they may have, or even the time of day, by the number of puffs it takes to remove the downy fluff from the round, fuzzy white heads when the flower has gone to seed. In the spring, the leaves are gathered and eaten in immense quantities like spinach, or as a salad, by the immigrant Italians who unwittingly, have established an excellent and popular relish now served in our homes and hotels, and which is pronounced by epicures to be a most wholesome and appetizing salad. The root is ground and roasted, and used like coffee. The root and leaves are also used as a popular remedy for liver complaints, and for dyspepsia; also as a spring tonic. The thick, bitter root is sometimes twenty inches long, and grows deeply in the ground. The long, and extremely variable narrow leaf is irregular, and unequally toothed and notched with the wavy, jagged points inclined toward the stem. Its smooth surface is divided with a wide, thick, pale green midrib. Ofttimes the leaves resemble in outline a series of triangles or arrow heads. They taper toward the base into narrow winged stems that curve to form a pretty flat rosette. As the thick, green bud opens, the numerous deep yellow florets, which are rolled lengthwise into tiny, hollow tubes gradually unfold, and become strap-shaped, with their square tips finely toothed. The outer ones open first and curve gracefully backward, until finally, the beautiful flower head assumes, when at its best, the shape of a flat, round and nearly semi-circular golden tuft of overlapping parts. They are held in a cup of many narrow, dark green, leafy bracts, and set singly on the tip of the long, tube-like stem. They open widest in the bright sun, and partly close at night. The plant contains a bitterish, milky juice that exudes freely when any part is broken, and which stains the hands. As the flowers fade, they are succeeded by a round, gray ball of light, feathery plumes, to which are attached the tiny seeds. The Dandelion is found in blossom the year round. While I am writing this description to-day, the third of January, in the vicinity of New York, my notes are supplemented with a freshly opened blossom, which I have just picked from the lawn of our suburban home. Dandelion is an obscure name, but is generally believed to be a corruption of the French dent-de-lion, meaning lion's tooth, and refers to the outline of the leaf which is said to resemble that of the teeth in a lion's jaw.
DANDELION. Taraxacum officinale.