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by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer
If you are from rural Jamaica, then you would know that when the time comes for the yard to be cut, there are a few bushes that you must never cut down, no matter how unappealing they may seem to you. Until one day, someone falls ill, maybe even you and these same plants you wanted to cut down are the cure for the illness. The Jamaican Dandelion is one of these plants.
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When you think of dandelion, it does look different from what we call dandelion in Jamaica. We often get corrected when we mention it online. But we understand the confusion. The dandelion you know is a flowering yellow plant which turns into a white fluff called a pappus. Jamaican Dandelion also has a small yellow flowering bud. However, it turns into the pods that are so commonly used in medicinal treatments here.
Dandelion has many names in Jamaica, Wild Coffee, Fedogoso, Piss-a-bed, Negro Coffee, Café Batard, Herbe Puante and Kasundi just to name a few.
The plant, which is originally from the tropical Americas is commonly found in Jamaica and has been included in our natural treatments as far back as the 10th century.
The scientific name for Jamaican Dandelion is Cassia occidentalis. It is from the Fabaceae (Leguminosae) species of plants and the sub-family Caesalpinioideae.
This shrub is grown slender and upright to a height of up to 2.5 m tall. The yellow flowers grow in clusters from which the fruit, flat, straight or sickle-shaped pods are grown. These pods can grow to be up to 13 cm long and 10 mm wide.
The plant has many health benefits which can be credited to its antibacterial, antifungal, antimalarial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, hepatoprotective and Immunosuppression properties.
It has a particularly foul odour when it is no longer safe to be consumed.
Well, most commonly it is used to make tea. When the seeds from the pods are dried and ground, it makes a tea that smells and tastes similar to coffee. Hence the names, wild coffee and negro coffee. The leaves are often steamed and eaten just as how we would steam vegetables.
If you are using the powder, a tablespoon can be added to boiled water and allowed to steep for 5 to 6 minutes before drinking. Dandelion can be sweetened with sugar, milk, honey or any sweetener of your choice. However, it is advised that it be had without sweeteners, especially processed ones for a better result.
Dandelion is not recommended to be had every day. It is advised that dandelion tea be had for no more than 7 consecutive days before taking a break for at least a week before starting to use dandelion again.
It can often be found growing in the wild or among weeds alongside roadways. Older persons will have trees growing around their yards.
Some incredible Jamaicans have dedicated their time to teaching us about the wealth of resources we have available to us in the helpful plants around the island. Mrs. Lawrence is just one of them and she knows a lot about the Jamaican Dandelion. You can watch her below.
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Jamaican Dandelion | Written: February 22, 2023
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