Dandelions: A Number of Reasons to Love Them

Parking lots are fertile fields for the weed-loving botanist.

You wouldn’t think that anything could grow without soil, without water, in a big pile of rocks–in fact, the reason the rocks were put there was so that weeds wouldn’t move in. But once again, the wily dandelions have outsmarted the humans.

Reason #23896 that I love dandelions: they can grow just about anywhere. I never cease to be amazed at the spots where they can thrive.

Reason #23897 that I love dandelions: their diversity. Dandelions are like snowflakes: no two alike. Look at these plants, all dandelions, and the difference in the leaves.

One plant has leaves that are jaggedly toothed, the classic “lion’s teeth” that give the plant its name. Another plant is hardly toothed at all. Some botanists, the “splitters,” argue that there are actually thousands of species of dandelions. Other botanists just lump all the varieties into the one species, Common Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale.

Reason #23898 that I love dandelions: they’re strong. I mean powerful. I mean, you don’t think of plants as being able to move rocks. But these dandelions are serious—when there’s a rock in their way, they don’t just lie down and wilt. They push and shove. Millimeter by micromillimeter, they make that rock get out of their way.

Can’t you just hear these dandelion leaves going “All together, now, lads! Heave!” And they’re going to win in the end, I know it. The rock doesn’t stand a chance.

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About unmowed

I'm a writer and a botanist who loves the weirdly weedy places of the world.
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