It’s that most beautiful time of year again! Spring has brightened flower beds and trees with colorful blooms. The air is thick with the smell of sweet chokecherry, lilac and crabapple blossoms.
Flowers are also sprouting in my yard. Yep, it’s dandelion season, as well.
As I mowed through a bunch of dandelions in my yard, their small white seeds floating into the air, I wondered how many seeds one dandelion would release? Turns out what we think of as one flower — the whole yellow part — is actually about 50 to 170 individual little flowers, called florets.
One plant, which can produce several bigger flowers, can create up to 2,000 seeds. That’s amazing. No wonder you see dandelions everywhere and that it is so easy for them to take over a yard or field.
As the flowers age, the florets turn into tiny white seeds that look like a little parachute. The flowers don’t need to be pollinated, like other plants, to reproduce. All they need is a little wind and some disturbed soil to settle into and grow.
Dandelions are members of the Asteracea family. That family contains more than 32,000 species, including other flowers like daisies, asters and sunflowers.
Although we treat them like weeds, some people plant dandelions so they can eat their leaves in salads. The flowers can be used to make wine. The white goo that oozes out of the stem when you break it off can soothe itchy skin or bug bites.
I asked the rabbit that lives in my backyard to concentrate on eating the dandelions to try and keep them from spreading, but that rabbit doesn’t listen to me. Silly rabbit. Doesn’t he know that dandelions leaves are high in iron?
— Brett French, firstname.lastname@example.org