En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
11 ratings

Thursday - January 12, 2012

From: Rama, ON
Region: Canada
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Edible Plants, Medicinal Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Negative and positive effects of invasive dandelions from Rama Ontario
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How do Dandelions have a negative impact of being a invasive and a Positive impact of being a invasive species ?

ANSWER:

This is a trick question, right? Since we don't exactly understand the point, we are going to tell you what we know about dandelions especially in the case of invasiveness, and hope we hit the answer you are looking for somewhere in there. Before we go on, we'd like to make note that Taxacum officinale, dandelion is native to Eurasia. It is thought that it was first brought to North America by the Pilgrims on the Mayflower because of its medicinal uses. Officinalis, officinale, officinarum, all adjectives, are the same word with different endings and they all mean used in medicine. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Mr. Smarty Plants encourage the growth, propagation and protection of plants Native to North America so, technically speaking, the dandelion is out of our area of expertise. However, we are always interested in invasive plants, native or not.  

First, we'll give you an online reading assignment, to save us the trouble of repeating things that others have already said, pros and cons. The first article.from the University of California Integrated Pest Management site, Dandelions, is on the cons of dandelions and the elimination thereof. The pros, from the University of Maryland Medical Center, Dandelions,  include the edibility of the plant and the medicinal uses, some of which have been around in various countries for well over a thousand years.

So, now that you have done your homework, here is our take on your question:

Non-beneficial Aspects of Invasive, Non-native Dandelions:

1.  They crowd out desirable plants, particularly in lawns

2.  They have very deep roots; herbicides will likely only damage plants around them.

3.  With deep taproots, they will pull available water out of the soil.

Beneficial Aspects of Invasive, Non-native Dandelions:

1.  They attract pollinators

2.  They are a source of nourishing food, coming up with no human intervention.

3.   With their medicinal qualities, they might one day offer the only cure for some dangerous human disease.

4.  They're cute

Pictures


 

 

More Medicinal Plants Questions

Occurrence and uses of Bottle Gentian in the Great Smoky Mountains Nat. Park
December 30, 2008 - In mid October of 2008 I was at the Gilliland Cemetery in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Cosby, TN. I found several flowers blooming which completely surprised me due to the time of year. I...
view the full question and answer

medicinal uses of Rudbeckia triloba
September 16, 2009 - Browneyed Susan, Brown-eyed-Susan, Thin-leaved coneflower, Three-lobed Rudbeckia Rudbeckia triloba L My question relates to the above species. I am doing research on historically medicinal plants...
view the full question and answer

Tree that successfully treats psoriasis
January 31, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty plants,I have a rather unusual question. Do you know of a tree/plant that you can grow in a container, looks like a conifer/evergreen, is green, has wispy looking branches, but when t...
view the full question and answer

Texas plants useful to early settlers
June 05, 2012 - I'm working on some interpretation for a prairie heritage trail in SE TX (near Houston). I'd like to know where I can find some good information on plant remedies which might have been used by early...
view the full question and answer

Shrub with thorns, black fruit and citrus fragrance in Michigan
September 19, 2014 - I'm not sure that my plant is a native, but I'm hoping to find some answer. There is a small patch of roadside shrubs on my property which I've been unable to identify. They have simple opposite ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center