Dandelion, the Common, or Leontodon Taraxacum, L. is an indigenous, perennial plant, growing in meadows and pastures, on road-sides, ditch-banks, etc. It produces yellow flowers, which blow from April to September, and have the remarkable property of expanding early in the morning, and closing in the evening.
In the spring, while the leaves are white, and scarcely unfolded, they are an excellent ingredient in salads. In France, the roots and leaves are eaten with bread and butter. This plant is also relished by goats, and especially by hogs, who devour it eagerly ; but sheep and cows dislike it, and horses totally refuse it : the seeds also support the smaller birds, which are extremely fond of them. The root, leaves, and stalk, contain a large proportion of bitter milky juice, which possesses considerable activity. Its more immediate operation is to remove visceral obstructions, and promote the urinary discharge. The dose prescribed by Boerhaave, for this purpose, is 4 ounces, to be taken three or four times a day; and we can, from experience, corroborate its great efficacy in dropsical, and those complaints which are connected with a disordered state of the first passages ; though we have direct-ed it to be taken in much smaller doses. The ancient Greek physicians were better acquainted with the properties of this excellent vegetable, than the modern practitioners, who appear to be more anxious to introduce exotics imported from distant countries , than to ascertain the qualities of those numerous medicinal plants which grow in their own climate. In short, we are induced to believe, that if the Great Frederic of Prussia had complied with the excellent prescription of the late Dr. Zim merman, who directed the extract, of dandelion to be taken in moderate portions of two table-spoonfuls each time, that extraordinary hero and philosopher would have survived his last attack of dropsy, for many years ; because his constitution was unimpaired, and his mind uncommonly vigorous ; tho' he had from his infancy imbibed an invincible prejudice against all physic and its administrators.