D Is For Dandelion and Dente-de-Leão.

Dandelion. Dente-de-Leão, Portuguese for dandelion, literally meaning “lion’s tooth”.

Wikipedia tells me the English dandelion comes from the French dent-de-lion, also meaning lion’s tooth, and I know it is diente de león is Spanish as well, so that makes it at least 4 languages with the common name having the same meaning. I’m curious about how other languages refer to this common wildflower.

A stunning shot, click for full size!

© Nightjar, all rights reserved.


  1. says

    Do you eat the greens?
    Because in German it’s Löwenzahn, lion’s tooth as well, except that in my neck of the woods we eat the greens and therefore the plant is known as Bettseicher “bed pisser” for its diuretic properties.

  2. Nightjar says

    Thanks, Caine!

    Giliell, no, we don’t eat the greens though I’ve heard the plant is edible. I think some people here use it to make tea but that’s it as far as I know.

    The unopened buds are very good in an omelette.

    That sounds delicious. I’m definitively going to try it.

  3. says

    Nightjar, sauté the buds briefly in some butter, then pour your egg mixture in the pan. It’s a quick and lovely Spring dish.

  4. says

    The flowers can be used to flavour honey.
    Something I have on my long bucket list of things I want to try.
    And I haven’t had a real dandelion salad in ages because of, again, no time.
    But here’s how it goes: Take the leaves before they grow buds (then the leaves turn bitter) and clean them. This is a hell lot of work. Also wear gloves if your hands need to not look like you’re a farmer turned tanner.
    Cut hard boiled eggs into a bowl, mix with a fairly neutral vinegar, salt and pepper. Add garlic and onions (I prefer to add them later)If you want to you can finely grind a boiled potato into the mix. Don’t add oil here. Add the dandelion. Fry some bacon cubes. I personally prefer to add the garlic and the onions to the bacon just before it is done so it’s lightly fried.
    Pour the whole sizzling mass over the salad and mix.

  5. jazzlet says

    Lovely photo.

    You can keep the leaves from being bitter by blanching them, find dandeion plant, put something over it that is light proof that will give the leaves room to grow, check occasionally for slugs feasting, pick leaves as required. Because of the tap root dandelions will go on producing leaves for ages without any light at all.

    A lovely variation of Giliell’s salad can be made with wild mushrooms fried in olive oil. I don’t put eggs in and I use the vinegar to deglaze the frying pan.

  6. Ice Swimmer says

    Wonderful picture.

    In Finnish, dandelion is voikukka, literally butter flower (voi = butter).

  7. rq says

    Pienene (piia-neh-neh, close enough…) in Latvian! Piens is milk, so it’s named for the liquid in its stems and roots.
    Here, they’re used as greens, and the flowers are used to make syrup or a really neat, oddly-flavoured honey, though it’s rare.

  8. Nightjar says

    Caine, Giliell and jazzlet:
    Thank you very much for the recipes and tips. I will try them as soon as I get the opportunity!

    Ice Swimmer and rq:
    Oh, thanks, butter and milk, those are two different approaches to naming the dandelion. Cool to know!

  9. Ice Swimmer says

    rq @ 9

    Pienene is a form of the Finnish verb pienentyä (become smaller). “Pienene” alone would mean imperative: “Become smaller!”. “En/et/ei/emme/ette/eivät pienene” would be the negative indicative forms: “Won’t or don’t/doesn’t become smaller”.

  10. Ice Swimmer says

    Me @ 13

    Actually, the verb is pienetä. Both mean the same and can be used for example saying that pay gets lower or doesn’t get lower.

  11. voyager says

    What a beautiful photograph. I love the contrast of new bud and gone to seed. You have a talented eye, Nightjar. I look forward to the rest of the alphabet.

  12. ledasmom says

    I believe the French word for dandelion-as-a-vegetable is pissenlit or similar, which certainly looks as if it might mean bedwetter. According to Farley Mowat they are or were called piss-a-beds in Newfoundland.

  13. chigau (違う) says

    In Japanese it is たんぽぽ, usually written like that because if one uses the kanji,
    one gets: 蒲公英
    which, when one translates it, yields WTF?
    That is how Japanese works.
    This post has been brought to you by the word “one” used as a pronoun.
    and commas ,,,,,

  14. jazzlet says

    Piss-a-bed and similar variations are old country names in the UK not often used now. Supposedly dandelion is diuretic, I don’t have persoanl experience of that!

  15. rq says

    Ice Swimmer
    Whaaa?? That is I think one of the most weirdest linguistic overlaps, ever. I will have look into the medicinal uses of dandelion in Latvia, but I really don’t see where the idea of ‘get smaller’ fits in… Ha, so cool, though. The milk connection makes more sense to me, but that’s just habit. :D

  16. says


    Piss-a-bed and similar variations are old country names in the UK not often used now. Supposedly dandelion is diuretic, I don’t have persoanl experience of that!

    It is, but mildly so. It’s names that come from before people had coffee I guess.

  17. Ice Swimmer says

    rq @ 20

    I wonder if Latvian piens and Estonian piim (also milk) and Finnish piimä (buttermilk or drinkable lactic acid bacteria fermented milk, milk is maito) are related. I also have a déjà vu feeling that we’ve discussed this before.

  18. rq says

    Ice Swimmer
    I don’t recall that we’ve discussed milk before, but I’m fairly sure there is an etymological link (but then, what seems logical ain’t always so with language).
    Maita, in LV without the umlaut, means carrion or roadkill, colloquially -- the equivalent of asshole. Sometimes I wonder how people manage to communicate at all without inadvertently insulting each other. (One of Latvia’s most beautiful rivers is Pērse; Estonians always have fun with that one.)

    Incidentally I tried looking into medicinal dandelions, but got back a bunch of ‘cures cancer!!!’ claims for all parts (flowers, leaves, stems, roots, the lot). Ick.

  19. Nightjar says

    voyager @15,
    Thank you! This was a very special finding, they were just there side by side asking to be photographed. :)

    rq @23,
    I’m beginning to wonder if there is a single plant/fruit/vegetable that is not claimed to be a cancer cure by someone, somewhere. On the other hand, searching Pubmed for “dandelion cancer” does return a few results claiming anti-proliferative activity for the root extract. On cell lines, which, can’t be said often enough, are not people.

  20. says

    Always remember that in France you can travel from Bitche to Condom. And for German speakers the river Meuse is great fun because it sounds like “Möse” which means c*nt.

    Always remember that our great great grandparents never had cancer because they ate all that stuff.
    Not coincidentally because they died of a rotten tooth before having a chance to get cancer.

Leave a Reply