Dandelions control and allelopathy

argylesock says… Dandelion season is blooming now, here in Britain. You can follow my ‘dandelion’ tag for more about this weed, or wild food, depending on your point of view. Reasons for liking the dandelion include its beautiful flowers and its tasty leaves. Reasons for disliking the dandelion include its ability to suppress other plants’ growth by having a wide rosette of leaves, and by allelopathy. Also its ability to spread itself by thousands of windblown seeds. I understand why some people spray herbicide to get rid of dandelions. But Roundup? You can follow my ‘glyphosate’ tag for more about that very popular herbicide. On my allotment, I prefer to tackle unwanted dandelions with a fork. But I’m not trying to make a living from that land.

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Although where ever possible I am not a user of herbicides, dandelions could be considered an exception.

Even the smallest fragment of root will regenerate and with the production of hundreds of seeds from each plant the potential for regeneration of plants and spread of seedlings is immense.

Dandelions are broad leaved, herbaceous, perenial plants and therefore systemic weedkiller such as round up containing glyphosate or a herbicide containing 2,4-D such as Weed-B-Gon will kill them without damaging grass.

For those who prefer less commercial methods vinegar has been shown to kill dandelions when applied directly onto the leaves. However vinegar is not selective.

If using a commercial weedkiller the active ingredient is translocated from the leaves to the root. Glyphosate is inactivated when it contacts soil.  However, the time taken for it to become inactivated can vary from 3 days to over 2 years in Sweden. So the rate of degradation…

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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4 Responses to Dandelions control and allelopathy

  1. I’ve always understood that bees love dandelions, and given the increasing shortage of food for bees that hasn’t been poisoned with some sort of herbicide, dandelions are even more important than ever, I hope they spread madly, as they are such an important link in our food chain.

    • argylesock says:

      Well said. Those big yellow flowers are there to attract bees, obviously, but they just happen to attract me too 🙂 As a child I liked to make daisy chains and dandelion chains.

      Anybody reading this who’s under pressure to remove dandelions (eg Carol the allotmenteer) might like to try the riposte, ‘I’m keeping them for bees to feed on.’

  2. PS And their leaves have all sorts of healthful properties and are good in salads.

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