The plants have another interesting benefit in addition to their edibility. This family was previously known as the Compositae. rubber latex and Taraxacum kok-saghyz, also known as the Russian dandelion. I know people use them in salads and we thought about harvesting ours, but wasn't sure if ours would be good in a salad. Some other species of Taraxacum are also eaten. A high-quality rubber can be produced from Taraxacum kok-saghyz, the Russian dandelion. Thank you, drbj! I haven't seen any recent reports describing how their efforts to breed improved dandelions are going. A Dutch biotech firm, KeyGene, believes it has developed a method using the latex found in dandelion roots (which is milky white — see the connection?) Since natural rubber is critical to the quality of many rubber products, industrialized nations in particular regard it as a strategically important resource. Ever snap off a dandelion head and see the white liquid seeping out from the stem? Another problem is that natural rubber is becoming more expensive. The Russian dandelion has the potential to become an excellent source of commercial rubber. The latter term refers to the composite nature of the flower, which is really an inflorescence made of many smaller flowers, or florets. Several rounds of selection resulted in a dandelion plant with a yield of 300 kg of rubber per year per hectare. Next Wooden Bones If the flower head of a common dandelion is removed or if the flower stem is broken, a milky white fluid exudes from the wound and coagulates after being exposed to air. In the breeding program the Kazakh (rubber) dandelion is also crossed with the Dutch (common) dandelion in order to increase the yield … Voted up, m'dear. At the moment, most commercial inulin is produced from chicory, a relative of dandelions. The experiment should be avoided by people who are allergic to latex. Researchers are also trying to increase the yield of latex and to decrease the cost of rubber production. Researchers are therefore turning to other sources of natural rubber/latex – such as the Russian dandelion. Faisal Akram, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0 License. The flowers are also dipped in a flour mixture and fried to make fritters. Photo by Greg Hume, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 License. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/p... Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 26, 2017: Hi, Abbasi. "Once we've gotten the DNA strand just right, our next step is to pilot the grow in a cutting-edge vertical hydroponic system," ASR said. The plants have many uses, both for individuals and for society. Tony Lawrence from SE MA on December 18, 2011: So cool. Natural rubber is a valuable commodity because it has useful properties that synthetic rubber lacks. These include fungal infection, political instability, loss of habitat, and possibly climate change. Yes, I think someone - or some people - may make a lot of money in the future producing natural rubber from Russian dandelions! This map shows the republic of Kazakhstan, with the republic of Uzbekistan to the south and Russia to the north. Likewise, the consortium anticipates the creation of a network of collaboration between European research and industrial organisations, to pool knowledge with scientists and government bodies so that Europe does not have to depend so much on imported natural latex. The use of Russian dandelions to produce rubber could soon become very important. :). Many plants, including dandelions which we will discuss in this article, produce latex instead of the rubber tree simply because, well, most people don't have rubber trees growing where they live. Sulphur and heat are often used to "vulcanize" rubber. Probiotics contain useful bacteria; prebiotics support their growth. Dandelions belong to the plant family known as the Asteraceae. “The dandelion natural rubber has ideal material properties. (The tree recovers to be tapped again in the future.) Inulin is a carbohydrate while insulin is a hormone that regulates the blood sugar level. Change clothing as soon as possible after use. Most of the South American population of the para rubber tree has been destroyed by fungus. The new, improved dandelion produces 500% more usable latex than the old weed does. Answer: This question would require a long article in order to answer it properly. This might be due to the desire to keep certain discoveries a secret. However, it's not the same "rubber tree" that's used to produce commercial rubber. Without vulcanization, rubber tends to melt in hot weather and become brittle in cold weather. They contain a large amount of inulin, a carbohydrate that is being added to a growing number of processed foods. Some researchers say that Russian dandelion rubber is as good as the rubber produced from the para rubber tree. These articles written by scientists may help you. The exact details of the process are being kept secret by the companies involved, however. Brilliant hub! They repeat this process in each generation of the plant. Dandelion rubber never did become commercially viable, and the Soviets abandoned the project after the war. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC54410... Information about the inulin pathway in Russian dandelion. Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 30, 2011: Hi, RTalloni. The exudate is generally white in colour but is sometimes colourless, yellow, orange, or red. This makes it useful for diabetics. If the plant is cut, the researchers say, the latex flows out instead of being polymerised so that they can obtain four to five times the amount they would normally. The chemical reaction between the rubber and the sulphur makes the rubber stronger and resistant to temperature changes. The tires are equivalent to those made from Hevea natural rubber,” says Dr. Carla Recker of Continental. The product isn't good enough to use commercially, however. Some people make an infusion or tea from the flower heads or from the leaves. Raisins and cloves are sometimes added to the mixture. Good luck with your endeavours. The Russian dandelion could be the answer to this problem. Thanks for the comment. Sharing this around! As is the case with any wild plant, it's important to be absolutely certain of a dandelion's identification before using it as food. In commercial rubber production, liquid latex is collected from the rubber tree and is shipped in air-tight containers to factories. The population of this plant is decreasing, however, along with the world's rubber supply. Recently researchers have once again become interested in making rubber from Russian dandelions. The Fraunhofer team overcame that sticky problem by switching off a key enzyme. natures47friend from Sunny Art Deco Napier, New Zealand. Eugene Brennan from Ireland on October 08, 2013: Well you learn something new every day! Cooking the leaves reduces their bitterness. As the number of cars and other vehicles in the world is increasing, the demand for rubber is also increasing. Dandelions and many other plants produce latex. During the second world war, the rubber supply to parts of Europe and the United States was blocked. The roots of this dandelion species contain the natural rubber latex (the source for natural rubber used in tires), meaning supply will be steadier and easier to control leading to greater price stability. ASR will be devoted to developing a domestic natural rubber industry through genetic modification of the Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TK) dandelion, according to the company website. The genetically altered plants provide four to five times as much liquid latex as the plants that are not genetically altered. Another problem was that the latex coagulated very soon after its release from the plants. Dandelion-derived latex has both the elasticity of natural rubber but lacks the allergens, making it an ideal alternative to rubber tree latex. Had no idea that rubber could be harvested from them. to increase the global supply of natural rubber. Common and Russian Dandelions: Nutrition, Latex, and Rubber The video below describes how natural rubber is made. Dandelion researchers are also working on better processes to get the rubber out of the plant. The flowers are mixed with oranges, lemons, sugar, water, and yeast (natural or purchased) and then fermented. Linda Crampton is a writer and teacher with an honors degree in biology. To start, the roots are harvested using standard farm machinery, then cleaned, dried, and ground up. This crop is also much less sensitive to weather than the rubber tree. Some people deliberately cultivate common dandelions in order to experience their nutritional and culinary benefits, however. Improved methods of latex removal have been created to tackle the problem of rapid coagulation after a dandelion is wounded. They are a good source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) as well as vitamin C. Vitamin C is destroyed by heat, however. In fact, dandelion latex is believed to be hypoallergenic. (Body heat helps the rubber to form.) An enzyme called polyphenoloxidase (or polyphenol oxidase) is responsible for the polymerization. Inulin is mildly sweet but doesn't raise the blood sugar level. Voted up and awesome...what a fascinating topic. The substance also promotes calcium absorption and is used in a medical test that assesses kidney function. drbj and sherry from south Florida on December 18, 2011: I knew some folks eat dandelions which many of us just consider as weeds. on December 18, 2011: I didn't know dandelions had so many beneficial uses. To make the rubber, part of a finger is coated with dandelion latex. Currently, all commercially available natural rubber is produced from rubber trees in tropical countries, more than 90% in southeast Asia. Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TKS) plants, also known as Russian dandelion, contains a significant accumulation of rubber and inulin—a valuable by-product—which functions as a dietary fibre additive in food products for digestive health. But rubber? She loves to study nature and write about living things. This is the same rubber that comes from the rubber tree, Just produces a lot less, you can also use Milkweed, among other plants. This means that if the plants were to be cultivated on a large scale, every hectare would produce 500–1,000 kilogrammes of latex per growing season. Who knew? Most rubber today is made from the latex of the para rubber tree. So interesting to learn about this--thanks! Germans, Russians and Americans produced rubber from this plant during the Second World War but it was difficult to use as, once it is cut, latex seeps out and polymerises (goes through a chemical reaction) immediately. The leaves are also rich in potassium, calcium, and iron. Either way, this is a very interesting article and total news to me! So many people think of dandelions simply as weeds, when in reality they have many benefits to offer us. 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