During World War II, the Soviet Union developed rubber from the dandelion plant. Discovering the proper species did not come easily, they tested 1,000 different types of the plant until they found “the one” growing in Kazakhstan.
Flash forward a few years, and now a major tire company in Germany, with the help of scientists at the University of Aachen, are developing a way to use dandelions in the production of rubber tires. Utilizing dandelion rubber would cut back on landfill waste, microplastic pollution, and deforestation. Continental Tires is producing dandelion rubber tires called Taraxagum. The bicycle version of their tires won the German Sustainability Award 2021 for sustainable design. The performance of the dandelion tires was better than natural and synthetic rubber.
Dandelions are a prime source for rubber because they can grow almost everywhere, in any climate or topography. It could even grow in polluted land and industrial ruins. The rubber extraction process only requires hot water, unlike the traditional synthetic rubber which requires solvents that create extreme pollution on disposal.
Dandelions have many powers. They are a food source for bees, can be a super-food for humans, and even turned into coffee. From blowing them into the wind on a warm spring day to becoming the next big source of rubber, this plant truly is special.