Darrell Blackwelder: Dandelions: Love ’em or hate ’em

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 18, 2023

Many of the lawns and landscapes in our area, if not inundated now, will soon be peppered with a broadleaf weed that never seems to die. Dandelion is a perennial found throughout Rowan County which produces white puffy seed heads.

This common weed has a thick, fleshy taproot with no stems, covered with serrated leaves which grow flat to the ground. Yellow blooms produce white puffy seeds which can be carried by the wind for miles.

The common dandelion grows best in weak, thinning turf and pastures. Proper turf maintenance is necessary as a natural control. Utilizing properly fertilization, correct mowing heights 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, there are some who do 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 its long tap root. Many equate the taste of dandelion to 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 have not been subjected to herbicides or any other pesticides 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 is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.