Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dandelions galore

Taraxacum officinale (left) and Sonchus sp. (foreground)
Thanks very much to the recent rains, our Wildscape continues to green green green. In the back yard, we're producing a very nice crop of dandelions. I've spent several hours, pulling a bunch up by hand. It's very satisfying, mind-calming work. I enjoy it. I've also picked tender, young dandelions with the intention of cooking them. That hasn't happened. Yet. But I have added dandelion leaves to my supper salad the past two nights. They blend right in. No funny taste at all!

Our healthy bumper crop of dandelions led me to start a mini research project. So far, I've ascertained that we have the common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) growing with jubilation right outside our back door. Alas, the deep green leaved species is non-native and traces its roots to Europe. We may also have some species of sow thistle (Sonchus sp.). Our native Texas dandelion (Pyrrhopappus multicaulis) hasn't yet arrived. It blooms from February through June, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

The lowly dandelion gets a lot of press. Years ago, Peter Gail wrote The Dandelion Celebration: A Guide to Unexpected Cuisine. If you want a copy, you'll have to pay the big bucks for it. And who knew that dandelions make great wine? Ray Bradbury wrote that book: Dandelion Wine. You'll find more dandelion books via Amazon.

I guess our resident dandelions now have gotta go. The Texas Invasives database includes Taraxacum officinale on their list of no-nos. One thing's for sure: the bees and other insects love love love the bright yellow flowers!

And speaking of dandelion flowers, I was surprised to learn that....

Dandelions reproduce asexually by seed (agamospermy). They don't need pollinators!


And one last look at our amazing dandelion crop...James is about to mow....

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