Dandelions are one of the most common wild plant native to Eurasia and North America.
The English name dandelion comes from the English pronunciation of the French word dent-de-lion (lion’s tooth) — one of the names of these plants in French. The yellow flowers of the dandelion plants are a common site even in cities but urban people in North America often encounter dandelions in their salad bowls. Dandelions are edible, they are also used as herbal medicine.
Dandelions are an edible weeds that grow all over the place. In The Hunger Games books the lead character reflects on how she gained hope for survival from seeing dandelions bloom because that was when she realized that she will have at least something to eat.
Dandelions are cultivated for human consumption, yet wild dandelions are considered to be a weed and people go into extraordinary length and cost to try to eradicate it from their lawns where they cause no harm, in fact can be beneficial to soil quality. Yet humans tend not to behave in a rational manner when it comes showing off to their neighbors.
Herbicides intended to kill hardy dandelions have been linked to a number of human diseases, including various forms of cancer, but that does not stop people from dumping large amounts of chemicals on they lawns just to get rid of harmless flowers.
Such behavior became so irrational that the city of Toronto had to ban the use of herbicides at various occasions. Yet advertisements on TV still try to sell various chemicals that are still technically legal as weapons in the crusade on dandelions. Apparently one can always build a viable business model counting on the sheer idiocy of its customers.
Dandelion reproduction is somewhat unusual. While dandelions still reproduce through seeds line normal angiosperms, they often do so parthenogenetically (by virgin birth), without pollination, producing seed that grow into clones of the original plant. Each seed (really a whole fruit) comes with its own parachute to help it fly far away from the mother plant and spread the species long distance.
Taraxacum officinale on Wikipedia.
Dandelion Sex, Or The Lack Thereof The Darwin Report.
Dandelions are Way Cool Part 2 – Genetics and Reproduction.