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Common Name: Rubber Dandelion
Taraxacum kok-saghyz is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.25 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of materials.
E. Europe to W. Asia - Turkistan.
High mountain regions, usually on light loamy meadow soils[
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[
] but prefers a well-drained moisture retentive humus-rich soil in full sun or light shade[
]. Prefers a pH between 5.5 and 8.5[
]. Dislikes very heavy or compacted soils[
Top growth of seedlings is very slow at first until the root has developed[
]. It is advantageous to mark out the rows with a catch crop such as radishes or lettuce[
This plant used to be grown commercially in Russia as a rubber producing plant. It was trialed in various countries during the second world war and was found to yield a commercial harvest in Britain, Scandinavia and Northern N. America. In a trial in N. America plants grew better in the northern U.S.A. and S. Canada than they did in the south of the USA[
]. With the advent of cheap artificial rubber interest in this plant dwindled.
Many species in this genus produce their seed apomictically. This is an asexual method of seed production where each seed is genetically identical to the parent plant. Occasionally seed is produced sexually, the resulting seedlings are somewhat different to the parent plants and if these plants are sufficiently distinct from the parents and then produce apomictic seedlings these seedlings are, in theory at least, a new species.
Leaves - raw or cooked[
The following uses are also probably applicable to this species, though we have no records for them[
Root - cooked[
Flowers - raw or cooked[
]. The unopened flower buds can be used in fritters[
The whole plant is dried and used as a tea[
A pleasant tea is made from the flowers. The leaves and the roots can also be used to make tea.
The root is dried and roasted to make a coffee substitute.
The root is a source of a high quality latex, used in making rubber[
]. Yields between 150 and 500 kilos per hectare are possible[
]. The roots are harvested in the autumn, before any hard frosts which can destroy some of the latex. They are then macerated to extract the latex.
The root is rich in the starch inulin. After the latex has been extracted, this inulin can be converted to alcohol and used as a fuel.
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame and either surface-sow or only just cover the seed. Make sure the compost does not dry out. Germination should take place within 2 weeks, though 2 weeks cold stratification may improve germination. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle, choosing relatively deep pots to accommodate the tap root. Plant them out in early summer.
Division in early spring as the plant comes into growth.