Humble dandelion – useful weed and a garden pest
Dandelions are especially well-adapted to a modern world of “disturbed habitats,” such as lawns and sunny, open places. They were even introduced into the Midwest from Europe to provide food for the imported honeybees in early spring. They now grow virtually worldwide. Dandelions spread further, are more difficult to exterminate and grow under more under adverse circumstances than most competitors. Most gardeners detest them, but the more you try to weed them up, the faster they grow. The taproot is deep, twisted, and brittle. Unless you remove it completely, it will regenerate.
The dandelion is a perennial, herbaceous plant with long, lance-shaped leaves. The plant is more of a weed than a cultivated plant. They’re so deeply toothed, they gave the plant its name in Old French: Dent-de-lion means lion’s tooth in Old French. The leaves are 3 to 12″ long, and 1/2 to 2-1/2″ wide, always growing in a basal rosette. The rosette is immature, tightly wrapped leaf bases just above the top of the root form a tight “crown.” As seen in the figure of the plant.
Dandelion leaves are at their best when they’ve just emerged. The dandelion’s well-known yellow, composite flowers are 1 to 2″ wide. They grow individually on hollow flower stalks 2 to 18″ tall. Each flower head consists of hundreds of tiny ray flowers. Unlike other composites, there are no disk flowers. Refluxed bracts grow under each flower. The flower head can change into the familiar, white, globular seed head overnight. Each seed has a tiny parachute, to spread far and wide in the wind. The thick, brittle, beige, branching taproot grows up to 10″ long. All parts of this plant exude a white milky sap when broken. The leaves are more nutritious than anything you can buy. They’re higher in beta-carotene than carrots. The iron and calcium content is phenomenal, greater than spinach. You also get vitamins B-1, B-2, B-5, B-6, B-12, C, E, P, and D, biotin, inositol, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc by using a tasty, free vegetable that grows on virtually every lawn. The root contains the sugar insulin, plus many medicinal substances. Dandelions are also good for the bladder, spleen, pancreas, stomach and intestines. It’s recommended for stressed-out, internally sluggish, and sedentary people. Anyone who’s a victim of excessive fat, white flour, and concentrated sweeteners could benefit from a daily cup of dandelion tea. Dandelion root’s insulin is a sugar that doesn’t elicit the rapid production of insulin, as refined sugars do. It helps mature-onset diabetes, and I used it as part of a holistic regime for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Taraxacum is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae and consists of species commonly known as dandelion.
Scientific name: Taraxacum, Rank: Genus
Higher classification: Asteraceae
Lower classifications: Common Dandelion, Taraxacum californicum
This is a photograph of the dandelion seeds ready for wind dispersal. Dispersal of seeds is not a unique to plant kingdom, it is akin to migration of animals. One can’t prosper under the roof of their forefathers, doing the same business. One has to migrate to greener pastures and perhaps do the same old family business. People have been successful in the past and now. America, the land of immigrants has made many a local parents proud of their siblings.
Article by Mr. R Venkata Ramanan. Chennai based educational consultant. See linkedIn profile.
R Venkata Ramanan
Padmini V Ramanan Educational Resource Centre
4/27-B, IIT colony 1st Street,
9444127974 ; 91-044-22463148
FACE BOOK PAGE