Friday, May 27, 2011

Taraxacum officinale

Most people consider the common dandelion a weed. I can't decide how to feel about it, honestly. It is technically non-native but whether or not to call it an invasive is tough. Like all "weeds" and "invasives" it is remarkably good at colonizing disturbed soil. It can even reproduce asexually making it somewhat resilient to a decline in pollinators. That being said, it is a small, fairly unobtrusive perennial. Dandelion patches never reach the magnitude of say, garlic mustard or Japanese knotweed. And, while this can be said of several invasives, its greens are a nutritious food.

I think the main reason that I can't decide how to feel about this non-native is that our modifications of the landscape are the primary reason for its success. Without lawns and sidewalks this perennial would not be seeing the success it has today. With leaves that stay in rosettes just on the ground it quickly gets shaded out by taller plants so it needs a wide open, sunny space to grow.

If you do want to get ride of dandelions your options are pretty much herbicide alone; its hearty taproot can survive even the most rigorous gardeners.

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