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 Invasive Plants Questions

Nativity of Lantana camara and Strelitzia reginae
November 08, 2011 - I was wondering why Lantana Camara is not in the Wildflower's database. Multiple sources say it is native to the U.S. and North America. I was also wondering if Strelitzia reginae (Bird-of-Paradise...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating ragweed in Sacramento CA
May 16, 2012 - Rag weed. How to be rid of it! My wife and lots of others that live in this part of Sacramento suffer greatly.
view the full question and answer

Controlling seeding of non- native, invasive Paulownia from Fayetteville TN
August 17, 2012 - My husband planted a Paulownia tree against my advice about eight years ago. This summer it has huge seed pods. How do I keep the seeds from invading the wooded area of our property?
view the full question and answer

Controlling Thermopsis rhombifolia (buffalo bean) in Mozambique
May 19, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty, Please,can you assist. We have a plot on a dam in Mozambique. It has been invaded with Thermopsis rhombifolia (we call it buffalo bean), it is very hardy and if you fall in it or j...
view the full question and answer

Non-native invasive chickweed in Collegeville PA
December 31, 2011 - My problem is chickweed. I have found considerable information on how to eliminate the chickweed. My question is after following a suggested elimination process: How and when do I reseed with grass?...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center