Darrell Blackwelder: Dandelion: It’s a menace. It’s a menu item. It’s both!

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 22, 2020

Many of our lawns and landscapes in our area are inundated with a broadleaf weed that never seems to die. Dandelion is a perennial found throughout Rowan County that is now in bloom and producing white puffy seed heads.

The weed has a thick, fleshy taproot with no stems with serrated leaves growing flat on the ground.
The yellow blooms produce white puffy seeds that are carried by the wind for miles.

The common dandelion grows best in weak, thinning turf or pastures. Proper turf maintenance is necessary as a natural control. Utilizing proper fertilization, correct mowing heights, coupled with sufficient irrigation will encourage dense turf.

The weed can also be controlled in early spring and summer with post-emergence turf herbicide sprays containing 2, 4-D and Banvel.

However, some may not want to control the weed. In fact, many salad connoisseurs enjoy the dandelion as a delectable salad component. Every part of the common dandelion weed is edible from the flower to the long tap root. Many equate the taste of dandelion to that of slightly bitter greens, such as arugula.

Freshly cut dandelions can be added to salads, sautéed or stir-fried. However, if you do want to include these leafy greens in your diet it is very important that the dandelions are not subject to herbicides or any other chemicals found in most home landscapes and gardens.

Go to https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/dandelions_for_food for more information about edible dandelion weeds.

Darrell Blackwelder deblackw@ncsu.edu is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.