Field of Science

Helping a reader with a dandelion experiment

Shannon writes: "So, while thinking about the effectiveness of other commonly recommended methods (pulling, eating, bleaching, salting) I thought, why not just remove all the leaves? Over and over again, starving the root.  I started doing just that, pulling all the buds as well when it occurred to me that I should leave the buds (until just before they go to seed) since the plant would theoretically invest energy in the seed production thereby starving the root even faster.  What do you think? Does either idea (pulling leaves and buds vs just the leaves) sound like it would work? I don't see it as being any harder than trying to pull the root or bending over all day trying to spot spray them with vinegar or Roundup."

First, let me ask, Shannon, where were you when the Phactor needed help doing an eradication treatment for a field experiment?  Believe me Shannon, you've got what it takes if you would even contemplate pulling all the leaves off the dandelions in your yard.
Now about trimming off the leaves of dandelions to kill the root.  Yes, this will work, if the world does not come to an untimely end sometime during the next 10 million years.  Plants are pretty conservative in their use of stored food.  We've been destroying shoots of trumpet creeper and bind weed as they appear for over a decade, and yet root systems somewhere near China keeps sending up new shoots.  That big taproot that dandelions have is going to be hard to deplete.  And all of this makes the Phactor wonder about your life Shannon.  Is this the best thing you can do with your time?  In a yard the size of ours pruning the leaves off dandelions would be a never ending task; just as you finished it would be time to start all over again.  Actually given the Phactor's situation, it might also be the case that physically pulling or digging out each weed would be never ending too.   If you really want the perverse pleasure of watching the dandelion die, you could use a blowtorch to kill the plant crown.  So chemical treatment has certain advantages, but don't use vinegar or Roundup.   Roundup kills everything, as do other such things as vinegar, although usually done as a spot treatment.  Weed killers target dicots while not affecting the grass, so get yourself a 1 gallon plastic sprayer, a small bottle of weed killer, and follow the directions to spot treat the dandelions.  Then either sign on to help with my field work or get a nice hobby like blogging.

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