Dandelions are perennial plants. They flower beginning in early spring and continue through the summer.
Botanical name: Taraxacum officinale
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Dandelion description and life cycle
- Dark green leaves have slightly ragged edges to deep, saw-like teeth, and pointed ends.
- Leaves form a basal rosette.
- The flower stalk can grow to 12 inches tall or more.
- Brilliant yellow ray flowers to 2 inches across; later form fluffy white seed heads.
- Blooms spring into winter.
- Taproots can extend several feet into the soil.
- Reproduced by seed and from root crowns; the root can send up new leaves.
Dandelion root system
Dandelion has a strong taproot that it is commonly 6 to 18 inches deep but can penetrate to a depth of 10 feet or more. Buds grow from the uppermost part of the root to produce a crown. The roots can re-generate new plants even after the plant has been cut off at or below the soil surface. Sections of the root are as short as 1 inch can produce a new plant.
- Roots may be dried, ground, and made into a coffee substitute.
- Leaves are nutritious spring green (mature leaves are bitter)
- Flowers can be brewed into brandy-like wine.
- Sap from flower stems can be used to treat skin ailments.
- Flowers are an excellent source of nectar for bees and other beneficial insects.
- Dandelions can raise the pH of acid soil.
Dandelion organic control
- Remove young plants by hand; remove the crown, taproot, and fibrous roots.
- Mature plants have deep taproots; remove the entire taproot with a forked dandelion prong. Do not leave any part of the root behind; sections of the root as small as 1 inch can re-generate a new plant.
- Do not let the plant flower and scatter the seed. Dandelion seeds are windborne and can easily travel for several miles to establish new plants.
Throughout the United States and southern Canada.
Four quick ways to control weeds
- Weed early. Control weeds in the first month after they germinate.
- Weed often. Hand weed every two weeks through the season.
- Weed by hand when the soil is wet (best to get roots).
- Use a hoe if the soil is dry. Decapitate weeds before they flower and drop seed.
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