What’s Inside a Dandelion?

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Although plenty of folks have dismissed dandelions for their plain exterior, savvy investors know it’s what’s inside that counts. Turns out the milky white sap in dandelion stems is latex, the building block of rubber.

Right now, most of the world’s latex comes from tropical rubber trees. But with demand for rubber predicted to outpace supply in 2020, the rubber world needs a new hero. Enter the dandelion.

Not only is the latex just as bouncy as natural rubber, but it lacks the pesky allergens that make rubber an irritant. Moreover, the dandelion is an adaptable plant: German scientists recently engineered a variety that oozes five times more latex than average. At this rate, researchers predict you could be road-tripping on dandelion tires by 2019.

This story originally appeared in mental_floss magazine. Subscribe to our print edition here, and our iPad edition here.