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Simpson Street Free Press

The Science Behind Spring's Most Popular Weed

When you're picking weeds, you may wonder how dandelions spread so easily across the grass. You might ask yourself, why are dandelions so effective at spreading their seeds widely?

Jena Shields, a biophysicist at Cornell University, had the same question when her advisor saw his child playing with dandelions. She noticed that not all dandelion seeds fly off into the wind at the same time. She then was inspired to research why that was happening.

Her research consisted of gluing dandelion seeds to a fine wire, then plucking them off. She found that dandelion seeds from different parts of the flower are only released in certain directions, depending on where the wind blows. For example, if the wind blows south, then some dandelion seeds will go south. The other seeds hold on tens to hundreds of times more tightly until the wind blows in the direction they are supposed to go in. Unless there is a strong wind, then they will fly in all directions.

Since spring is here now you will likely see a lot more dandelions popping up everywhere! Understanding just how dandelions work to spread and populate as much terrain as they can is super important if you are ever trying to get those pesky weeds out of your lawn!


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