Friday, April 30, 2010

Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

The Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) gets a bad rap. ‘In the country’ we can ignore the stigma associated with having dandelions in our fields and enjoy the bright yellow color they share on a cloudy or rainy day. They will bloom year round if the winter is mild. In a cold winter, as we have just had, they take a while to get started. In cool weather in late winter-early spring, they will bloom on short stalks. As the weather warms, they bloom on longer stalks and each plant may bear multiple blooms simultaneously.

A number of flowers – members of the family Asteraceae - resemble the Common Dandelion; these include Krigia species, Sonchus asper, and Pyrrhopappus carolinianus. Flower color and leaf shape are useful to differentiate one from another.

A flower in late winter-early spring. This photo shows the characteristic leaf shape of the Common Dandelion.

A flower in full bloom

A seed head

A seed head that has ‘lost’ some of its seeds. This photo shows the characteristic shape of the seeds.

Even the empty seed head is quite striking if you can ignore that fact that this is a weed.

The Common Dandelion is native to Eurasia but is found worldwide. It occurs in all states and provinces in the United States and Canada, respectively.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Distribution map:

- USDA Plants Database:
Taraxacum officinale (Common Dandelion)

Identification resources:

- Southeastern Flora: Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

- Schede di botanica:
Taraxacum officinale
- Wikipedia: Taraxacum officinale

Related posts:

- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower


Kind of Curious said...

You are right, Dandelions really are beautiful. And to think of all the time and effort I waste trying to eradicate them from my yard! I especially like your photo after some of the seeds have flown away.

JSK said...

Thank you!
We have an 8-acre field so it's a little hard to even think about eradicating them.
And they play their part. They're still around providing food for bees in the late Fall and the deer will munch on them occasionally.