Dandelions, which were restricted to Eurasia at one point of time, are found almost all over the world today, and that gives an apt idea as to how adaptable this plant is. In fact, this very adaptability of dandelions this species, along with their tendency to colonize lawns, has earned them notoriety of being a lawn pest in various regions. While everybody considers them pests, there do exist some interesting facts about this species that you must have never come across before. For instance, very few people know that dandelions have longest growing season of various plants of the planet.
Very few plant species are considered to be as useful as the dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are, with every single part of this plant - right from dandelion root to flowers, having quite a few uses of their own. Even though this perennial herbaceous plant is considered to be a weed, it has been used for its medicinal properties for several centuries now. Other than their medicinal value, dandelion are also used in food and for the preparation of dye. As we mentioned earlier, dandelions can adapt to different conditions with utmost ease. However, they are known to grow best in sunny climate in regions with well-drained soil.
When dandelions invade your lawn, you can have a tough time trying to get rid of them as they just keep coming back. While other weeds can be removed by lawn mower with considerable ease, dandelions are not harmed by it as their leaves - which play an important role in the regeneration of this species, grow very close to the ground and hence are out of the reach of the mower.
The botanical name for dandelions - Taraxacum officinale, is derived from a combination of Greek words which refer to the medicinal properties of this species. Their common name 'dandelion' is derived from a French phrase dents de lion, which means the tooth of a lion which refers to the shape of the leaves of this plant. It is known by several other names in different parts of the world, some of the most popular ones among which are blow ball, puff ball, yellow gowan, pissenlit, wild endive, cankerwort, etc.
The manner in which dandelions spread is also quite interesting. Wind is the driving factor when it comes to spread of this species, as it transports seeds from one place to another. At times, wind can carry these seeds over a distance of five miles with immense ease. The dandelions found in North America today were brought to this region by the European settlers who cultivated them for their medicinal and culinary uses which existed in plenty.
Dandelions - being ruderals, have the ability to grow in very poor soil with immense ease. Unlike other ruderals though, this species doesn't succumb to competition from slow growing plants around it. Instead, it inhibits the growth of other plants by using its long leaves to ensure that the sunlight - necessary for the growth of these plants, doesn't reach the ground. Being photosensitive, dandelions bloom with the Sun in the morning and close with sunset in the evening. Similarly, when the conditions are gloomy, they appear quite dull.
Dandelions are not just popular among humans, but are also quite popular among the members of kingdom Animalia with herbivorous animals like rabbits, deer and chipmunks feeding on different parts of this plant. Similarly, birds - such as ducks and geese, are known to feed on their flowers and seeds. In the northern hemisphere, dandelions share a symbiotic relationship with bees by providing them with nectar in lieu of their help for pollination.
Other than all these dandelions facts, these perennial plants also have a special place when it comes to folklore and superstitious beliefs across the world. Several people believe that these plants don't just predict weather, but also have the ability to predict the future of a person. Many people also believe that your wish comes true when you make a wish and blow dandelion seed head. While that may not be an interesting fact as such, it is surely one of the most common superstitions about dandelions.