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Buckling, Bending And Penetration Response Of The Taraxacum Officinalae (Dandelions) To Macadam Loading

Peter R. Greene, Virginia A. Greene

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A multi-stemmed, multi-leaved dandelion plant (Taraxacum officinale) can lift an overhead weight of 2–3 N, sustaining this force for 3–4 weeks, which can cause yielding and cracking of a macadam surface. In the present report, Euler buckling theory was applied to experiments on flower stems and leaf stalks of the dandelion plant, allowing an estimate of the internal stresses, strains and Young’s modulus of the plant-tube wall, under unusual loading conditions imposed by overhead weight. Stalk buckling-strength scaled with length L as 1/L2, stalk bending scaled as L3. Young’s modulus for the leaf stalks and flower stems was measured at 3–14 MPa, compressive wall stress at buckling was 0.1–0.2 MPa, being comparable to the cell turgor pressure. Because the dandelion plant is a natural source of latex and grows in a wide variety of climates, one practical application of this work may be using stress to enhance growth rates. Theory and experiments agree with correlation | r | > 0.94 for bending and buckling.