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Good Question: Why So Many Dandelions?

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
Jason DeRusha filed his first report for WCCO-TV on April Fool's D...
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By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s hard to disconnect dandelions from that bouquet we gave our moms or from that dandelion crown we made as little kids. As adults, though, frolicking isn’t exactly what we want to do with dandelions.

So why are there so many dandelions around in Minnesota this year? Blame the snow.

“With the snowpack the ground didn’t freeze as deep,” said John Prochnow, a horticulturist with Rainbow Lawn Care. “When spring hit, those weeds were set to start growing, now we have this to deal with.”

The most recognizable broadleaf weed, because of the bright yellow flowers, when the flowers turn into white, fluffy seeds, you’ve got problems.

“Each one of those seeds can blow up to five miles,” said Prochnow. “And each seed, a new plant can grow up.”

Mowing them down while the flower is still yellow can prevent their spread, according to Prochnow. But using a weed hound device to pull the weed rarely works.

“It has one tap root that can go down up to 2 feet,” he explained, noting that the root generally breaks when you try to pull it out of the ground.

“Oh, I don’t like them,” laughed Chef Scott Pampuch. “That’s why I eat them.”

Pampuch is the owner of  Corner Table Restaurant in South Minneapolis and he uses greens in salads.

“They’re bitter and provide a nice balance to the sweetness in other types of greens,” he said.

He also uses them in a gastrique with vinegar and sugar.

“See the fronds? Those are the petals,” said Pampuch. “Greens, heads, flowers are edible.”

A friend of his brought a dandelion-lemon marmalade. He uses dandelions in a pound cake.

“One person’s dandelion is another person’s lunch,” he said.

Back at a home in St. Louis Park, Rainbow Lawn Care is spraying herbicide on the dandelions. Killing them — for now. They’re perennials. They’ll be back.

Dandelions ended up in the U.S. because they were medicinal food in Asia and Europe. We had no dandelions when the Mayflower came here. We had tons of them by the end of the 1600s.

One serving of dandelion greens has the same calcium as half-a-cup of milk. There are also lots of vitamins in it.

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