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Dandelion - Taraxacum Officinale
The dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is not usually a plant you'd think of as desirable, but it can be an excellent addition to your garden when handled carefully.
The dandelion is a small- to medium-sized plant. The leaves are medium to dark green; they form a low rosette-shaped cluster that doesn't have an apparent main stem except for the one on which the flower sits. The leaves have serrated edges. Leaves on young plants tend to be rounder (but still toothed) than on older plants, which usually have elongated leaves. The leaves tend to form a slight V-shape at the spine so that water from rain, dew, and sprinklers pours straight down to the base of the plant.
The flower stem is a greenish-brown and can stretch up to 1 to 2 feet in length. The stem, or stalk, may have tiny hairs covering it. At the top of the stem is the flower, which has a green base, called an involucre, extending up from the stem, and inside that is a ring of yellow petal-like structures called ray florets. Each ray floret consists of a ligule, which looks like the "petal" of the flower, and a reproductive structure that combines the stigma, anther, and ovary.
When the dandelion flower gradually dies, the yellow ray florets wilt away, leaving a green bulb at the top of the stem. This bulb erupts open and reveals the classic puffy round seedhead. Each of these seeds has a white hairy head, a small stalk, and a seed capsule. These fly off in the wind to new areas so new flowers can grow.
Dandelions can be grown for food value if you use food-safe pest control and cut off the flower before it goes to seed. Get new seeds along with growing and care information specific to your area from a nursery.
Dandelions are a great way to bring natural beauty to a natural area. They love various soil conditions. They are also very easy to grow and to care.