Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Potato Dandelion Transplants

I was in the woods yesterday and decided to go by and check on the Potato Dandelion, Krigia dandelion, tubers that I transplanted last August.  At least a few of the tubers survived and have developed clusters of leaves.

Cold weather causes the leaves to blush a bright lavender.  When temperatures begin to moderate, green blotches will develop that give the leaves a pattern similar to early Trout Lily leaves.  I think this coloration causes the plants to be overlooked by the casual observer.

I planted over 50 tubers along this ridgetop, but only found a small number of plants yesterday.  The bare ground chosen to receive the tubers in August has since been covered by fallen leaves.  By late April the Krigia plants will have developed enough for the leaves to be easily seen above the forest leaf litter.

In addition to planting tubers in the woods, I introduced a few into a new container.  These plants are growing in a 22 inch diameter container that had been filled with recycled potting soil.  First growth appeared in late September.  Growth was rapid until the sub-freezing weather arrived.

Leaves show signs of stress from exposure to cold, dry air.  Each warm spell allows the plant to increase the size of the youngest leaves emerging from the center of the rosette.

This is the seven inch diameter pot that housed the stray Potato Dandelions found growing in the burned shed site last April.  After sifting out the large tubers last August, I returned the soil to the pot.  There were enough small tubers left in the soil to produce this growth.

A few drops of water, left by the rain a few days ago, remain frozen on the leaves.  I’ve seen these plants receive much worse damage than this and still recover with the return of warm weather.  So much about this species suggests that it should thrive in this area, but it still remains a rarity in Ohio.

This 18 inch diameter container has been producing Potato Dandelions for many years.  Somehow, this pot has become contaminated with Chickweed.  After harvesting the tubers in August, I’ll add a couple inches of fresh soil to this container.  That should reduce the possibility of Chickweed next year.

Leaf damage is not quite as bad in this container, even though there are still ice crystals sitting on the leaves.

Most of the plants show minimal damage.  All three pots are situated in different locations and this pot was in a position that allowed snow blowing from the barn roof to cover most of the plants.  The snow protected the leaves from the dry air, which seems to be the major cause of leaf damage.  I hope to have an abundance of tubers for transplanting next summer.  Given time, I should be able to find other suitable locations in which this plant can thrive at Blue Jay Barrens.


  1. Based upon a casual look at flower and leaves, I've long assumed we had potato dandelions here on our place in the Arkansas Ozarks. I guess it a sign that dandelions usually get no respect, that I've never taken the time to confirm my ID, or to dig one up and find its potato.

  2. Hi, Marvin. I suspect this species is more abundant than commonly believed. The tubers usually grow at a shallow depth, so it's easy to brush a little soil aside to make certain of the ID.