Dandelions have deep taproots, and the whole plant contains a milky fluid known as latex (6). It is perennial, and flowers throughout the year (5). The flowers close at night, and can produce around 2,000 wind-dispersed fruits (1). Plants can also regenerate from pieces of the tap root (1).
Although generally regarded as a weed, dandelions have many uses, both culinary and medicinal (6). It is a scientifically proven diuretic and laxative (4), and has also been used as a tonic, to treat rheumatic problems, and as a blood purifier (6). Young leaves and flowers are used in salads, stir-fries and other recipes, and the root can be dried to make a substitute for coffee, a practice that was common during the rationing of the Second World War (4).