While True (or Common) Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is widely understood as an invasive weed and spreads readily through its iconic puff ball seed heads we all use to send our wishes. However, its benefits far outweigh its propensity to reproduce. Its early flowering period makes it one of the earliest seasonal sources of pollen for beneficial insects. Dandelion's bitter leaves and roots are completely edible and rich in vitamins and minerals. While “Italian” Dandelion or Chicory are more commonly used in salads and stir fries, baby True Dandelion leaves work just as well. The lush yellow flowers are also used to make homemade wines.
Dandelion is a perennial plant that produces harvestable leaf material 40-50 days from seeding and ideal root material from 90 days onward.