An annoyance, perhaps, but far from being aggressively spreading plants that alter natural habitats, the hallmark of a truly invasive species.
As soon as frost has passed, dandelions begin to dot the southern slopes, brightening the brown and gray landscape with pops of chartreuse.
The flowers provide nectar for nearly 100 species of insects, while the seeds and leaves feed over 30 species of birds, chipmunks, and other wildlife.
Hummingbirds use dandelion down to line their tiny nests, and beneficial insects and lizards seek shelter under the low-growing leaves.
And they do so just by growing: the roots hold the soil together to help prevent wind and water erosion.