Introduced Species Summary Project
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Scientific Name: Taraxacum officinale
Phylum or Division: Magnoliophyta
Identification: Dandelion derives its name from the french term ‘dent de lion’ meaning ‘tooth of the lion’. Dandelions are perennial, herbaceous plants that grow best in moist, sunny areas found in all parts of the northern temperate zone. The plant grows year round but goes dormant in areas that experience a cold winter. The dandelion taproot, thick, sturdy and dark brown, can penetrate the soil up to 10 to 15 feet. The buds grow from the uppermost area of the root where a tight crown is formed. Here additional plants can grow even if the root has been cut into the soil and is only one inch in length. Leaves, shiny and hairless, are 3 to 12 inches long and ½ to 2 ½ inches wide and always form a basal rosette shape, meaning they all branch out from the center. They resemble canine teeth pointing upright or backwards. The flowering stalk can reach lengths from 6 to 24 inches. The head contains 100 to 300 ray flowers and when cut off, a bitter, milky substance leaks out from the stem. Beneath the floret of bright golden yellow, five tiny petals sit above a tube filled with an abundance of nectar.
Original Distribution: Though the dandelion has been carried
from place to place since before written history, it can at least be said that
the plant is native to
Dandelions have been established in the
Dandelions can grow just about anywhere, namely fields, lawns, forests, gardens or even wastelands. They tend to grow more in areas laden with sunlight rather than under trees or shady spots. The plant can be found more commonly in disturbed areas such as an avalanche site, a burned forest and marshlands to name a few and anywhere from sea level to high alpine elevations.
Site and Date of Introduction: Dandelions have spread throughout the northern hemisphere for so long that it is difficult to determine their nonnative status. It has been noted however, that the Puritans found dandelions to be so useful that they brought them to settle in the new county.
Mode(s) of Introduction: Throughout
history, dandelions have been purposely carried across oceans and continents by
human beings. European settlers brought
these plants intentionally to
Reason(s) Why it has
There are many various reasons why the dandelion has become established. The most intended purposes of the dandelion
was for medicine, food and wine. In the
17th century when dandelions were brought to the
The dandelion species
is not easy to contain. Just by blowing
the puffball, the head flies away spreading a couple hundred seeds up to
hundred of miles away depending on the wind strength. It was reported that by 1672, the plant was
well established in
Ecological Role: Dandelion are associated with the following common shrubs, grasses, and forbs; common snowberry, Wood’s rose, russet buffalo berry, blueberry, chokecherry, black sagebrush, Wyoming big sagebrush, Oregon-grape, rough fescue, Idaho fescue, slender wheatgrass, prairie Junegrass, timber danthonia, Richardson’s needlesgrass, tufted hairgrass, bluegrass, aster, willowweed, prairie smoke avens, small-leaf angelic, Colorado columbine, rhexia-leaved paintbrush, Oregon fleabane to name some.
While dandelion commonly cultivate in disturbed areas, the length of time the plant remains prevalent varies from ecosystem to ecosystem. It may reach a peak after a few years or last steadily for as much as ten. After harvesting, dandelion is a predominant species. Once an area has been overgrazed, dandelions germinate. When there has been overgrazing, dandelion appear. However, dandelion would not exist on rangelands because they cannot withstand competition for water, nutrients, and sunlight.
The dandelion has countless health benefits and palatable applications.
Europeans used the plant to treat fevers, boils, eye problems, diarrhea, fluid
retention, liver congestion, heartburn, and skin ailments. Dandelion was used
Dandelion is seen as aiding digestion due to its bitter principles thought to stimulate salivary and gastric juices. The root can improve bile flow which would help alleviate liver congestion, bile duct inflammation, hepatitis, gallstones and jaundice. Dandelion leaves create diuretic activity which can cause considerable weight loss. Studies have shown that the plant can produce antibodies to cancer and can buffer blood glucose levels for diabetics.
All parts of the plant can be eaten and are often found in salads, roasted, fried, mixed in pancakes or made into wine, tea, or a coffee-like drink. Dandelions have a taste similar to chicory or endive with a bitter tinge.
Threat(s): The dandelion has a low ecological impact and provides no real damage to the ecosystem. The major negative aspect of the dandelion is the difficulty in exterminating it in yards or places where people do not want the plant to grow. Dandelions are often considered an annoying weed and are found most commonly in highly disturbed ecosystems such as lawns.
Control Method: Dandelions are one of the most difficult weeds to control since the seeds can spread quickly and easily by wind. The seeds do not need to be planted and can germinate on their own under most conditions. It is best to attempt to stop the proliferation when dandelions are still seedlings because once established, the specie is very hard to disrupt. The ways to control dandelion growth are mainly sweep tillage and disking, crop competition, forage management and herbicide options. The most successful approach is to combine a cropping program with the use of herbicides to prevent dandelion establishment. With good crop competition, dandelion germination can be stifled. Using herbicide application during the fall is most effective. The measures that can be taken in a direct seeding system are; pre-seeding, early spring in-crop, pre-harvest, post-harvest, summer fallow, termination of perennial forage. To control dandelions, a combination of approaches should be taken seriously since the plant can establish itself rapidly.
Author: Dara Hourdajian
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