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Taraxacum officinale

Taraxacum officinale F.H. Wigg.

T. officinale subsp. vulgare

Taraxacum officinale subsp. vulgare

Common Dandelion, Dandelion

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderAsteralesFlowering plants with a central disk flower and surrounding petals, like daisies
FamilyAsteraceaeThe aster family, which also includes daisies and sunflowers; from the Greek ἀστήρ, “star,” for the star-shaped flowers
GenusTaraxacumMedieval name traceable through Arabic to the Persian talkh chakok, meaning “bitter herb
SpeciesofficinaleSold as an herb, often applied to plants with real or supposed medicinal qualities

About plant names...

Dandelions inhabit temperate regions throughout the world. Their ability to hunker down and escape the mower blades makes them a bane to many lawn owners, but these robust plants produce beautiful flowers and seed heads. Plants have long thick tap roots, almost like carrots, that sustain them through the winter and make it difficult to remove them.

Identification: Dandelions sometimes reach heights of 28" (70 cm), but that is the height of some of the flowerheads. All the leaves emerge from the ground (basal), in a rosette around the center. Leaves may be nearly flat, or more upright, and they are up to 10" (25 cm) long, but only about 1" (2.5 cm) or less wide. The narrow leaves are heavily divided, looking almost ragged. Long, round, hollow, somewhat shiny stems, ⅛-³/₁₆" (3.2-5 mm) around, support a single flower. Stems are dull green or purple. Broken stems emit a white, sticky substance. Dandelions are members of the aster family, and their deep yellow flowerheads, ¾-1¾" (1.9-4.4 cm) across, resemble other asters. Each flower is composed of dozens or hundreds of florets. Seed heads are about the size of a golf ball, perfectly round, grayish-white. Dozens or hundreds of seeds, each equipped with its own parachute, emerge from the center, breaking off in the slightest breeze.

Edibility: Young dandelion greens are boiled for 5-10 minutes, thoroughly drained, and served hot with salt, pepper, and butter, or added to soup. The greens are quite bitter, and sometimes mixed half and half with spinach. Give the dandelions a head start in this case, since they take longer to cook. Pick the greens before any flowers appear. They can also be added to salads, but don’t use too many. Dandelions can be made into beer, and the flowers into wine. Even the roots can be baked in a slow oven until brown, ground like coffee, and made into a delicious coffee-like beverage.

Online References:

Taraxacum officinale on Wikipedia

Taraxacum officinale at Botanical.com

Taraxacum officinale on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Taraxacum officinale on the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Taraxacum officinale University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program

Taraxacum officinale on eFloras

Taraxacum officinale on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database

References:

Peterson, Lee Allen, Peterson Field Guides: Edible Wild Plants of Eastern/Central North America, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1977, p. 84

Taraxacum officinale (Common Dandelion, Dandelion)

4/8/2010 · Tom & Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 10 × 8" (24 × 19 cm)

Taraxacum officinale (Common Dandelion, Dandelion)

6/3/2009 · Timber Creek Overlook Trail, Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park, UT
≈ 3 × 3" (7.6 × 7.6 cm)

Taraxacum officinale description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 4 Jul 2015.

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Taraxacum officinale (Common Dandelion, Dandelion)

4/21/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 12 × 10" (31 × 26 cm)

Taraxacum officinale (Common Dandelion, Dandelion)

4/23/2010 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 3 × 3" (8.2 × 7.9 cm)

Taraxacum officinale (Common Dandelion, Dandelion)

4/8/2010 · Tom & Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 4½ × 3½" (11 × 9.2 cm)

Taraxacum officinale (Common Dandelion, Dandelion)

6/12/2007 · Near Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, CA
≈ 4 × 3" (10 × 7.3 cm)

Taraxacum officinale (Common Dandelion, Dandelion)

4/8/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 15 × 12" (38 × 29 cm) ID is uncertain

Taraxacum officinale (Common Dandelion, Dandelion)

4/21/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 11 × 9" (27 × 23 cm)

Range:

About this map...