Dibbles And Bits

Dandelions are everywhere in early spring.

“My great grandfather brought dandelions with him from Denmark,” Paul Harens of Yankton remarked. “They were for greens.”

Why one would bring dandelion seeds to grow– the plant scourge of some lawns today? Dandelions are members of the large Asteraceae family. The genus Taraxacum is native to North America, but two species often seen in lawns are officinaleor T. erythrospermum. These were introduced from Europe, making them exotic plants here that escaped cultivation. The plant is an edible source of salad or cooked greens. The flower head or floret is composed of many flowers that produce many seeds.

Dandelions are a common early source of nectar for pollinators. Some Taraxacum sp.produce seed without pollination, making the new plant an exact copy of the parent plant. Taraxacum sp. have taproots and are herbaceous perennials. Florets open in daytime and close at night. The flower head produces a sphere of single seeds with parachutes that widely disperse in the wind. Another amazing plant.



“Rethinking Cities” in the April issue of National Geographic magazine shows the contrast in thinking about the need for plants and green spaces in the urban setting.

Garden cities with homes and a shared park by them was envisioned by an urban planner in Welwyn Garden City, England a hundred years ago. Today in Singapore, vertical gardens reach high-rise height on the exterior of the 627-foot Oasia Hotel. The building has 54 species of trees and flowering vines that cool the interior and attract birds and insects.

Near Beijing, a landscape artist thinks of a contrasting green low-rising city with small blocks and revitalization that addresses local problem areas. National Geographic is available to read at the Yankton Area Community Library.


Flooding impacts all trees but time of the year and length of time in standing water also makes a difference in tree health.

Tree roots require oxygen in the soil and a water-logged soil blocks oxygen for the tree’s nutrition uptake. Dormant tree roots have less oxygen demand than one’s leafing out.

Dr. John Ball, S D Forest Health Specialist and S D Extension Forester, reports that some trees tolerated the standing water of the 2011 Flood better than others: Boxelder, Green Ash, Cottonwoods and Willows, the best. Depending on the length of time in standing water and other conditions: Silver maple, Hackberry, Eastern red cedar, Bur oak and American elm faired moderately well. These trees were more impacted by flooding and standing water: Crabapple, Apple, Cherry, Peach, Plum, Pine and Spruce. Find more about his findings in his March 27th Update: https://sdda.sd.gov/conservation-forestry/forest-health/tree-pest-alerts/PDF/2019/04-10-2019.pdf



Want to get involved in a spring “citizen science” effort?

Project BudBurst is a nationwide project to observe plants for environmental information. It involves tracking and reporting dates of leafing out, flowering and fruiting of a plant in our region. Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) has been tracked in some regions from the 1950’s and is quite available in our area. Lewis & Clark Recreation Area has easily accessible lilacs, for example.

Some plants of the Chicago region have been tracked for many years and are showing a trend of 2-3 weeks earlier bloom in recent years. Botanists and ecologists may utilize this data in their studies. Reporting occurs online with computer or phone app. Educational materials may be downloaded. Find out more about Project Budburst at https://budburst.org



Like to grow the blooms that supply flower bouquets for your kitchen table all season?

Pick your colors, choose a small space to start the project, use techniques of a vegetable garden, add vertical supports, pick flowers as they open for longest vase life, and select flowers to grow for parts of the season and personal interest. The article with more information and photos is found in the March/April Northern Gardenermagazine, available for reading at the Yankton Community Library, 515 Walnut Street.


What are ways that our landscapes and gardens can be most climate-friendly?

Undisturbed land, such as a native prairie or forest might be considered nearly natural functioning ecosystems. One of the elements of the prairie or forest that contributes to climate is carbon-sequestration—that is capturing, storing and using carbon.

Brian Barth, a landscape architect in Toronto writes about best practices for gardens and landscapes that foster carbon-sequestration in January/February 2019 Horticulture His suggestions are to focus on perennials, trees and shrubs instead of annuals that require more input each year. Minimize tillage so that carbon is not emitted into the atmosphere. Plant densely, another suggestion, adds to the biomass. That would include adding ground cover plants such as hostas as living mulch. He’s a fan of organic mulch, especially forms found locally such as leaves, grass clippings and wood chips. Less mowing and a push mower are other options to adding less combustible carbon to the atmosphere.


We like a variety of plant-related topics at Plant Exchange Blog that just motivate a person to explore outdoors and read more about the amazing plants around us. That’s what “Dibbles and Bits” is all about. Thank you for your visit. See you next week!









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