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Taraxicum officinale

Dandelion, Taraxicum officinaleThe dandelion is perhaps the most popular, and best known of all weeds.  It certainly has a beautiful flower.  Is there a mother who has never gushed over a bouquet dandelions?  If it were more difficult to grow, gardeners would pay a high price for it.  Some people do cultivate dandelions, the young greens are eaten in salads.  For many years I planted them in my yard because they were a favorite of the desert turtles.

Dandelion, Taraxicum officinaleThe leaves are the bane of lawn purists.  If allowed to grow freely (as I have done) dandelions may grow rather bushy set of leaves, and flower stems two feet tall.  However, when subjected to the lawn mower, the leaves will spread a rosette flat on the ground, and send up flower stems which are successively shorter until the flower head has no stem at all.

Dandelion, Taraxicum officinaleAt night, after the flowers are pollinated the flower head closes up while the fruit matures.  When the fruit has matured, the head opens again, revealing the child's delight, a "white headed dandelion.

Dandelion, Taraxicum officinaleEach flower produces one fruit.  When a breeze (or breath of a child) catches the parachute the fruit separates from the plant and drifts away on the wind.

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