Dandelions: Weeds or Flowers?

I am of the camp that believes that dandelions are flowers, not weeds. Weeds are not pretty…weeds have no purpose other than to be annoying. Dandelions are beautiful. You can eat the young leaves, press the flowers to make a decent wine and if you are desperate, toast and grind the roots to make a palatable coffee.

A lot of people tell me that dandelions are weeds and must be destroyed with herbicides, stricken from all lawns and flowerbeds immediately.


A vote here for ‘of less than cosmic importance’
Dandelion is a plant. Or a little tree.

I’m not sure how polarised this debate will become, nor am I sure which side of the fence I’ll end up falling on.

Dandelions are plants.

If they are growing somewhere against your wishes, they may legitimately be called weeds.

If you’re growing them deliberately (and I’m told they have a number of good cultivated varieties in France), then they are vegetables.

If you allow them to reproduce, the sexual organs are called flowers.

Botanically, they are a Herb.

Weeds aren’t trying to annoy you on purpose, BTW.

Dandelions make nice salads, nice wine and breed like rabbits jacked up on Viagra. I’d put them down as massively invasive flowers. My entire back yards was a dandelion paradise, but the the ground was hard, lumpy and unpleasant to play on. When we had them eliminated it looked like I had 6" of snow back there. This year, now that they’re under control, I have next to none and the clover is looking great. A weed I like.

My MIL insists that dandelions must be stricken from any garden, yard or side-bed because they will organically destroy your soil (or at least that’s what she told me).
CG is of the same mind and kills them when spraying an all-purpose weed-killer on the lawn. There is not a weed-killer available that won’t kill dandelions unfortunately, or I’d be using it.

Problem is…I don’t want weeds in my yard but I do want the dandelions. But I can’t kill the weeds without killing the dandelions.

What am I to do?


Dig the dandelions and plant in a pot.
They can develop massive tap roots so maybe go get a big strawberry planter and fill it with them.

Just pretend those weeds are Bad Boys and dig them!

Leave the dandelions, pull the weeds. That way you get to keep what you want, don’t have to resort to chemical warfare, and get to spend time out in the yard.

So says Duke, who calls them weeds.

I thought a “weed” was really just any plant that grew wherre its attendant human did not want it to.

Ditto what Celyn and Mangeout said – a weed is any plant in your yard or garden that you don’t want there.

As for dandelions – while I like blowing on the seed pods, those raggy leaves are just damn ugly.

A weed is anything that’s growing where you don’t want it to grow. If you have roses growing where you don’t want them, they’re weeds.

Some people treat other people like weeds, for the same reason.

Moderator’s Note: Uprooting to IMHO.

There is a website devoted to dandelions (big surprise) and the beneficial attributes of said humble plant. The medicinal and nutritional value of all parts of the dandelion are well documented, from treating liver disorders (and liver spots) to mitigating diabetes. The word comes from the French “dent de lyons” or “lion’s teeth”, if anybody cares.

They are herbs and are possibly the most versatile herb out there that drives homeowners nuts.

I’ve often wondered why you cannot buy dandelion seeds at stores. I know you can get them for free in the yard, but …wellll…I dunno.

Re. the name - dent de lion - they are also known as pis-een-lit, and were known to my mother as “pee the bed” - um - sounds as though there are serious diuretic effects involved here!

Horticulturally and agriculturally, a weed is any plant that is not where you want it to be. Some weeds have flowers, some do not. In that case, the status of dandelions is merely a matter of taste.

Botanically, “weed” refers to specific traits of growth, spread, and hardiness. Under botanical eyes, dandelions are truly magnificent weeds, very impressive and worthy of much respect.

The leaves are diuretic, the roots are not. I’ve heard them called piss-a-bed, somewhere. Culpeper, maybe? I dinna remember.

That being said, I’m a negligent fella in the yardwork department. I let the dandelions take over-- no countermeasures for 2, maybe three years-- just regular mowing. Realized the error of my ways recently when I mowed the ‘lawn’, (I’m being really generous there,) and then went away for an extended week-end. Came back and found that my ‘lawn’ appeared to be almost a foot high again.

I spent two days out there pulling the little blighters out by the roots. I’ve got blisters on me fingers. They are the very weediest of the weeds.

That being said, I agree that dandelions can be quite pretty. There’s a little house in my neighborhood that usually has a pretty good crop of them going, and, since the house is a squat little thing with green and yellow accents, it just seems right, somehow. I’ve admired it enough each time I walked past it that, eventually, I couldn’t help but take a picture of it, in spite of the dubious propriety of taking snapshots of strangers’ homes.

Of course, it looks like hell when the dandelions go to seed and bollocks up the perfect colour scheme – not to mention the rage that their immediate neighbors must feel when all those little airborne seeds drift where they’re not wanted.

A weed is not only a plant that is growing where you don’t want it–a weed is also a thief, taking water and nutrients from the plants that you do want.

In my yard, dandelions are weeds. They spread like wildfire and they are really hard to dig out. I do like the idea of putting some in a planter and not letting them go to seed.

Dandelion coffee is superb though; it takes a lot of roots to make the stuff, but it is worth it.

You roughly chop the roots, then roast them in a thin layer on a tray in the oven, then when they are light brown and crispy, you bash them into little bits and roast again until dark brown.

Using them like ordinary ground coffee, it makes a wonderfully rich and aromatic cup with slight licorice overtones - I have served it to guests without telling them what it was and they complimented it.

I’m wondering, in that Dandelion House that Larry Mudd posted, if the dog mentioned in the sign eats the dandelions when his stomach is upset. I’ve also seen rabbits eat the whole head of the dandelion up in one swallow. Quite a sight.

Like hell they’re not! Pass me the Round-Up[TM] brand selective herbicide, Mabel, I’m goin’ weed huntin’!