A COMMON AUSTRALIAN GARDEN RESIDENT
In Australia and probably many other parts of the world the common dandelion is easily recognized by its bright yellow flowers and fluffy seed head. Many lawns (unfortunately including my own) are full of dandelions and they seem to pop their heads up the next day after a mowing if the conditions are right. They can be an absolute pain to remove by hand as their tap root system can run very deep which anchors the plant into the ground. The whole tap root needs to be removed to kill the plant. If you want to clear a large lawn of dandelion a selective herbicide can be used which will kill the broadleaf weeds and hopefully not kill your grass. You have to be careful when doing this as buffalo grass is particularly sensitive to selective herbicide so if you have Buffalo grass you need a produce such as Yates buffalopro weed killer. There are several different species of dandelion (Taraxacum Sp) including Taraxacum californicum the endangered Californian dandelion. The word Dandelion is of French origin and means "lion's tooth". Dandelions are thought to have evolved over 30 million years ago in Eurasia.
A common sight in my lawn
DANDELIONS AS FOOD AND AS DRINK?
As hated as they are as a weed Dandelions can be used as a food source. The young leaves are edible although rather bland tasting. The young leaves can also be made into a tea. If you wash the roots and slowly roast them in the oven on a very low temperature they can then be ground up and brewed into a coffee like drink. I've tried both the Dandelion tea and Dandelion coffee. I found the tea a bit tasteless but the coffee actually wasn't too bad. The coffee like drink can be purchased some Australian shops. It is quite expensive, funny that what most consider a weed costs so much to buy as a product in the supermarket.
The tough tap root system of a dandelion
DANDELIONS AS A MEDICINE
Dandelions have been used as a herbal medicine by humans for much of recorded history. Native Americans boiled dandelion in water and to treat skin problems, heartburn, kidney disease, swelling, and upset stomach. In traditional Chinese medicine it has been used to treat appendicitis, stomach problems and breast problems, such as lack of milk flow or inflammation. Europeans have used it to remedy boils, eye problems, fever and diabetes.
They are tough little blighters. Look at this one growing in straight crushed rock at my home in Macedon.
WEED INFORMATION SUMMARY
COMMON NAME: DANDELION
BOTANICAL NAME: TARAXACUM SP
Dandelion is a very common broadleaf biennial weed plant in
. It will grow in most soil types. It is a prostrate plant with upright yellow flowers. It is a broadleaf plant with deep taproots. Dandelion is a warm season plant that dies back over winter. Australia
METHOD OF SPREAD
It is mainly spread via airborne seed. Mature dandelion flowers are very light and easily transported by wind.
Hand weeding dandelion can be difficult even if the soil is moist and soft. The whole taproot needs to be removed or the plant can regenerate. Solarisation may an easier method to employ for controlling dandelion. Glyphosate will destroy this weed if a chemical control method is considered. Dandelion needs to be removed before the flowers mature and become transported by wind or other means. Repetitively scalping dandelion may work but it will take many scalps to totally destroy the plant.