The Dandelion, most common in the northern climates, is prevalent throughout both rural and urban settings. Easily identifiable by its yellow flower and uniquely shaped leaves, the dandelion does have several characteristics that make it a useful plant, even though those living in an urban environment find it to be nothing but a nuisance. The Dandelion has a thick taproot that is dark in color on the outside, white and milky on the inside. Its leaves are shiny and jagged, and constructed to gather and direct moisture to the center of the plant, thus keeping it well watered. The Dandelion flower is sensitive to changes in the weather, thriving and reaching for the sky in direct sunlight, closing itself up when raining and with the dew of the night. As the flower matures, one day in the sun and with a light breeze, the blossom turns a fluffy, silky white, full of seeds and releases them into the surrounding environment, only to compound the problem.
Most small birds favor the seeds of the Dandelion, and bees are provided with plenty of pollen and nectar from the flowers in the early spring. Young Dandelion leaves can be used in salads, and of course many are finding dandelion wine a tasty beverage.
Control of Dandelions is considered to be easy. Chemical control with a broadleaf herbicide will generally eliminate the problem in one to two applications. Proper cultural practices will ensure future control without the use of chemicals. A lawn that is fertilized on a regular basis, watered weekly and cut at a mowing height of 2 ½ to 3 inches will create a lawn that is thick and vigorous, thus preventing the germination of Dandelions and other weeds.
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