Brief Summary

A perennial from a basal rosette with yellow flowers and a 'puff-ball' seedhead. Some Dandelions, such as Taraxacum officinale, are common and problematic weeds of turfgrass and lawns throughout the United States and elsewhere. Others, such as Taraxacum californicum, are endangered.

Dandelion can occur as a weed of container ornamentals, landscapes, nurseries, orchards, and occasionally agronomic crops. Some are used for medicinal purposes and as food.
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Comprehensive Description


Scapose perennial herbs with tap-roots. Leaves usually runcinate-pinnatifid, confined to a basal rosette. Scapes 1 or more, unbranched, hollow, each bearing 1 capitulum. Receptacle pitted but without scales. Phyllaries 2-seriate; outer spreading or recurved. Florets yellow, often with darker stripes on the outer side. Achenes ± terete, ribbed, muricate or echinate in upper part, with a long slender beak. Pappus of many series of simple rough white hairs.
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In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / miner
larva of Chromatomyia syngenesiae mines leaf of Taraxacum

Plant / resting place / on
adult of Cryptocephalus hypochaeridis may be found on Taraxacum
Remarks: season: 4-9

Foodplant / gall
larva of Cystiphora taraxaci causes gall of leaf (blade) of Taraxacum
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / feeds on
Gliocanus pilosellus feeds on Taraxacum

Foodplant / feeds on
Gliocanus punctiger feeds on Taraxacum

Foodplant / miner
larva of Liriomyza strigata mines leaf of Taraxacum

Foodplant / miner
larva of Liriomyza taraxaci mines leaf of Taraxacum

Foodplant / feeds on
Lygaeus equestris feeds on Taraxacum

Plant / associate
mycelial muff of Morchella esculenta is associated with live root of Taraxacum
Other: unusual host/prey

Foodplant / miner
larva of Ophiomyia beckeri mines leaf (midrib, lamina) of Taraxacum

Plant / resting place / within
puparium of Ophiomyia cunctata may be found in leaf (base of midrib) of Taraxacum
Other: major host/prey

Plant / resting place / within
puparium of Ophiomyia nasuta may be found in live leaf base of Taraxacum

Plant / resting place / within
puparium of Ophiomyia pulicaria may be found in leaf (petiole at base) of Taraxacum

Foodplant / gall
larva of Phanacis taraxaci causes gall of leaf (midrib) of Taraxacum

Foodplant / miner
larva of Phytomyza marginella mines leaf of Taraxacum

Foodplant / gall
Protomyces pachydermus causes gall of leaf (midrib) of Taraxacum

Foodplant / gall
sorus of Synchytrium taraxaci causes gall of live leaf of Taraxacum

Foodplant / miner
larva of Trypeta immaculata mines leaf of Taraxacum

Foodplant / gall
Vasates rigidus causes gall of leaf (margin) of Taraxacum


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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Lightweight structure aids dispersal: dandelions

The seeds of dandelions are efficiently dispersed on the wind thanks to tiny discs of radiating threads that act as parachutes.

  "The dandelion provides its seeds with a slightly more complex flying apparatus, a tiny disc of radiating threads that form, in effect, a parachute. A dandelion presents these seeds to the wind hoisted on the top of a stem and arranged as a fragile elegant globe." (Attenborough 1995:16)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Attenborough, D. 1995. The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior. London: BBC Books. 320 p.
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Source: AskNature


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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:488
Specimens with Sequences:580
Specimens with Barcodes:229
Species With Barcodes:79
Public Records:405
Public Species:69
Public BINs:0
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Barcode data

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"Dandelion" redirects here. It may refer to any of the genus Taraxacum or specifically to Taraxacum officinale. For similar plants, see False dandelion. For other uses, see Dandelion (disambiguation)

Taraxacum /təˈræksəkʉm/, also known as dandelion, is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. They are native to Eurasia and North and South America, and two species, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, are found as weeds worldwide.[2] Both species are edible in their entirety.[3] The common name dandelion (/ˈdændɨl.ən/ DAN-di-ly-ən, from French dent-de-lion, meaning "lion's tooth") is given to members of the genus and, like other members of the Asteraceae family, they have very small flowers collected together into a composite flower head. Each single flower in a head is called a floret. Many Taraxacum species produce seeds asexually by apomixis, where the seeds are produced without pollination, resulting in offspring that are genetically identical to the parent plant.[4]


The species of Taraxacum are tap-rooted biennial or perennial herbaceous plants, native to temperate areas of the globe.[clarification needed]

The leaves are 5–25 cm long or longer, simple and basal, entire or lobed, forming a rosette above the central taproot. The flower heads are yellow to orange coloured, and are open in the daytime but closed at night. The heads are borne singly on a hollow stem (scape) that rises 1–10 cm or more[2] above the leaves and exudes a milky latex when broken. A rosette may produce several flowering stems at a time. The flower heads are 2–5 cm in diameter and consist entirely of ray florets. The flower heads mature into spherical seed heads called "blowballs"[5] or "clocks" (in both British and American English)[6][7][8][9] containing many single-seeded fruits called achenes. Each achene is attached to a pappus of fine hairs, which enable wind-aided dispersal over long distances.

The flower head is surrounded by bracts (sometimes mistakenly called sepals) in two series. The inner bracts are erect until the seeds mature, then flex downward to allow the seeds to disperse; the outer bracts are always reflexed downward. Some species drop the "parachute" from the achenes; the hair-like parachutes are called pappus, and they are modified sepals. Between the pappus and the achene, there is a stalk called a beak, which elongates as the fruit matures. The beak breaks off from the achene quite easily, separating the seed from the parachute.

Seed dispersal[edit]

Segment of pappus fiber showing barbs.

A number of species of Taraxacum are seed dispersed ruderals that rapidly colonize disturbed soil, especially the common dandelion (T. officinale), which has been introduced over much of the temperate world. After flowering is finished, the dandelion flower head dries out for a day or two. The dried petals and stamens drop off, the bracts reflex (curve backwards), and the parachute ball opens into a full sphere.

False dandelions[edit]

Hawksbeard flower heads and ripe seeds are sometimes confused with dandelions.

Many similar plants in the Asteraceae family with yellow flowers are sometimes known as "false dandelions". Dandelions are very similar to catsears (Hypochaeris). Both plants carry similar flowers, which form into windborne seeds. However, dandelion flowers are borne singly on unbranched, hairless and leafless, hollow stems, while catsear flowering stems are branched, solid and carry bracts. Both plants have a basal rosette of leaves and a central taproot. However, the leaves of dandelions are smooth or glabrous, whereas those of catsears are coarsely hairy.

Other plants with superficially similar flowers include hawkweeds (Hieracium) and hawksbeards (Crepis). These are readily distinguished by branched flowering stems, which are usually hairy and bear leaves.


The genus is taxonomically complex, with some botanists dividing the group into about 34 macrospecies, and about 2000 microspecies;[10] approximately 235 apomictic and polyploid microspecies have been recorded in Great Britain and Ireland.[11] Some botanists take a much narrower view and only accept a total of about 60 species.[10]

Selected species[edit]


  • 'Amélioré à Coeur Plein' - Yields an abundant crop without taking up much ground, and tends to blanch itself naturally, due to its clumping growth habit.
  • 'Broad Leaved' - The leaves are thick and tender and easily blanched. In rich soils they can be up to 60 cm wide. Plants do not go to seed as quickly as French types.
  • 'Vert de Montmagny' - large leaved, vigorous grower, matures early.[15]


Dandelions are thought to have evolved about thirty million years ago in Eurasia.[16] They have been used by humans for food and as an herb for much of recorded history.[17]


Leaf resemblance to lion tooth

The Latin name Taraxacum originates in medieval Persian writings on pharmacy. The Persian scientist Al-Razi around 900 (A.D.) wrote "the tarashaquq is like chicory". The Persian scientist and philosopher Ibn Sīnā around 1000 (A.D.) wrote a book chapter on Taraxacum. Gerard of Cremona, in translating Arabic to Latin around 1170, spelled it tarasacon.[18]

The English name, dandelion, is a corruption of the French dent de lion[19] meaning "lion's tooth", referring to the coarsely toothed leaves. The plant is also known as blowball, cankerwort, doon-head-clock, witch's gowan, milk witch, lion's-tooth, yellow-gowan, Irish daisy, monks-head, priest's-crown and puff-ball;[20] other common names include faceclock, pee-a-bed, wet-a-bed,[21] swine's snout,[22] white endive, and wild endive.[23]

"The English folk name for the plant "piss-a-bed" refers to the strong diuretic effect of the plant's roots.[24] In various north-eastern Italian dialects, the plant is known as pisacan ("dog pisses"), because they are found at the side of pavements.[25]

In Swedish, it is called maskros ('worm rose') after the small insects (thrips) usually present in the flowers.[26] In Finnish and Estonian the names (voikukka, võilill) translate as 'butter flower', due to the color of the flower.



Dandelions are found on all continents and have been gathered for food since prehistory, but the varieties cultivated for consumption are mainly native to Eurasia. A perennial plant, its leaves will grow back if the taproot is left intact. To make leaves more palatable, they are often blanched to remove bitterness.[17] or sauteed in the same way as spinach.[27] Dandelion leaves and buds have been a part of traditional Slovenian, Sephardic, Chinese, and Korean cuisine. In Crete, Greece, the leaves of a variety called Mari (Μαρί), Mariaki (Μαριάκι) or Koproradiko (Κοπροράδικο) are eaten by locals, either raw or boiled, in salads. Taraxacum megalorhizon, a species endemic to Crete, is eaten in the same way; it is found only at high altitudes (1000 to 1600 m) and in fallow sites, and is called pentaramia (πενταράμια) or agrioradiko (αγριοράδικο).[28]

The flower petals, along with other ingredients, usually including citrus, are used to make dandelion wine. The ground, roasted roots can be used as a caffeine-free dandelion coffee.[29] Dandelion was also traditionally used to make the traditional British soft drink dandelion and burdock, and is one of the ingredients of root beer. Also, dandelions were once delicacies eaten by the Victorian gentry, mostly in salads and sandwiches.

Dandelion leaves contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron and manganese.[30]

Medicinal uses[edit]

Historically, dandelion was prized for a variety of medicinal properties, and it contains a wide number of pharmacologically active compounds.[31] Dandelion is used as a herbal remedy in Europe, North America and China.[31] It has been used in herbal medicine to treat infections, bile and liver problems,[31] and as a diuretic.[31]

Food for wildlife[edit]

Taraxacum seeds are an important food source for certain birds.[32]

Dandelions are also important plants for northern hemisphere bees, providing an important source of nectar and pollen early in the season.[33] Dandelions are used as food plants by the larvae of some species of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). See List of Lepidoptera that feed on dandelions. They are also used as a source of nectar by the pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne), one of the earliest emerging butterflies in the spring.

Benefits to gardeners[edit]

The dandelion plant is a beneficial weed, with a wide range of uses, and is even a good companion plant for gardening. Its taproot will bring up nutrients for shallower-rooting plants, and add minerals and nitrogen to soil. It is also known to attract pollinating insects and release ethylene gas which helps fruit to ripen.[34]

Cultural importance[edit]

Four dandelion flowers are the emblem of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.[35] The citizens celebrate spring with an annual Dandelion Festival.

The dandelion is the official flower of the University of Rochester and "Dandelion Yellow" is one of the school's official colors. The Dandelion Yellow is an official University of Rochester song.[36]


Dandelion pollen may cause allergic reactions when eaten, or adverse skin reactions in sensitive individuals. Contact dermatitis after handling has also been reported, probably from the latex in the stems and leaves.[37] Due to its high potassium level, dandelion can also increase the risk of hyperkalemia when taken with potassium-sparing diuretics.[38] The consumption of dandelion leaves has also been implicated in occurrences of fasciolosis.[39]

As a noxious weed[edit]

The species Taraxacum officinale is listed as a noxious weed in some jurisdictions,[40] and is considered to be a nuisance in residential and recreational lawns in North America.[41] It is also an important weed in agriculture and causes significant economic damage because of its infestation in many crops worldwide.[40]

As source of natural rubber[edit]

Dandelions secrete latex when the tissues are cut or broken, yet in the wild type the latex content is low and varies greatly. Using modern cultivation methods and optimization techniques, scientists in the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) in Germany developed a cultivar that is suitable for commercial production of natural rubber. The latex produced exhibits the same quality as the natural rubber from rubber trees.[42] In collaboration with Continental Tires, IME is building a pilot facility. As of May 2014, the first prototype test tires made with blends from dandelion-rubber are scheduled to be tested on public roads over the next few years.[43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Adrian John Richards (1985). "Sectional nomenclature in Taraxacum (Asteraceae)". Taxon 34 (4): 633–644. JSTOR 1222201. 
  2. ^ a b Luc Brouillet. "Taraxacum F. H. Wiggers, Prim. Fl. Holsat. 56. 1780". Flora of North America. 
  3. ^ "Wild About Dandelions". Mother Earth News. 
  4. ^ J. Doll & T. Trower. "Dandelion". WeedScience. University of Wisconsin. Archived from the original on October 22, 2008. 
  5. ^ "blowball". McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 2003. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ "dandelion clock - Definition from Longman English Dictionary Online". Ldoceonline.com. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  9. ^ [3]
  10. ^ a b A. J. Richards (1970). "Eutriploid facultative agamospermy in Taraxacum". New Phytologist 69 (3): 761–774. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.1970.tb02461.x. JSTOR 2430530. 
  11. ^ Richards, A.J. (1997). Dandelions of Great Britain and Ireland (Handbooks for Field Identification). BSBI Publications. p. 330. ISBN 978-0-901158-25-3. 
  12. ^ "Plants for a future: Taraxacum kok-saghiz". 
  13. ^ "Flora of North America". Efloras.org. Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  14. ^ "Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute - Taraxacum ceratophorum". Retrieved 2013-08-29. 
  15. ^ "Dandelion". Fondation Louis Bonduelle. 
  16. ^ "Gardening in Western Washington: Dandelions". Gardening.wsu.edu. 2003-05-04. Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  17. ^ a b McGee, Harold (2004). "A survey of common vegetables". On Food and Cooking: the science and lore of the kitchen. New York: Scribner. p. 320. ISBN 0-684-80001-2. 
  18. ^ Reported in An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, by Walter W. Skeat (1888) (Downloadable at Archive.org). In An Etymology Dictionary of Modern English by Ernest Weekley (1921) it is reported that Arabic tarashaqun is derivable in turn from Persian talkh chakok, bitter herb (Downloadable at Archive.org).
  19. ^ S. Potter & L. Sargent (1973) Pedigree: essays on the etymology of words from nature. Collins New Naturalist series Volume 56
  20. ^ Britton, N. F.; Brown, Addison (1970). An illustrated flora of the northern United States and Canada: from Newfoundland to the parallel of the southern boundary of Virginia, and from the Atlantic Ocean westward to the 102d meridian. New York: Dover Publications. p. 315. ISBN 0-486-22644-1. 
  21. ^ "Common Dandelion_Family: Asteraceae". 
  22. ^ Loewer, Peter (2001). Solving weed problems. Guilford, Conn.: Lyons Press. p. 210. ISBN 1-58574-274-0. 
  23. ^ Jonas: Mosby's Dictionary of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (c) 2005, Elsevier.
  24. ^ Taylor, Joseph (1819). Antiquitates curiosae: the etymology of many remarkable old sayings, proverbs and singular customs explained by Joseph Taylor (2nd ed.). T&J Allman. p. 97. Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  25. ^ Anon. "Dandelion - far more than a weed". Frapez.com. Frapez soothie spa. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 
  26. ^ "Den virtuella floran: Taraxacum F. H. Wigg. - Maskrosor" (in Swedish). Linnaeus.nrm.se. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  27. ^ [4]
  28. ^ Kleonikos G. Stavridakis , Κλεόνικος Γ. Σταυριδάκης (2006). Wild edible plants of Crete - Η Άγρια βρώσιμη χλωρίδα της Κρήτης. Rethymnon Crete. ISBN 960-631-179-1. 
  29. ^ Castronovo Fusco, MA (2008-04-15). "Dandelion as underrated as underfoot". New Jersey On-Line. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  30. ^ "Dandelion greens, raw". Nutritiondata.com. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  31. ^ a b c d Katrin Schütz, Reinhold Carle & Andreas Schieber (2006). "Taraxacum—a review on its phytochemical and pharmacological profile". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 107 (3): 313–323. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2006.07.021. PMID 16950583. 
  32. ^ D. L. Buckingham and W. J. Peach (2005). "The influence of livestock management on habitat quality for farmland birds". Animal Science 81: 199–203. doi:10.1079/asc50700199. 
  33. ^ Pellett, Frank Chapman (1920). American Honey Plants; Together With Those Which Are of Special Value to the Beekeeper as Sources of Pollen. American Bee Journal Publication. p. 178. ISBN 1-152-86271-5. 
  34. ^ Anon. "Companion Planting for Vegetables & Plants". Country living and farm lifestyles. countryfarm-lifestyles.com. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  35. ^ "Welcome to Main Street White Sulphur Springs...Make it home". Wssmainstreet.org. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  36. ^ "Songs of the University of Rochester". Lib.rochester.edu. 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  37. ^ Bill Church (2006). Medicinal Plants, Trees, & Shrubs of Appalachia – A Field Guide. Lulu.com. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-4116-4486-1. [unreliable source?]
  38. ^ Lourdes Rodriguez-Fragoso, Jorge Reyes-Esparza, Scott W. Burchiel, Dea Herrera-Ruiz & Eliseo Torres (2008). "Risks and benefits of commonly used herbal medicines in Mexico". Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 227 (1): 125–135. doi:10.1016/j.taap.2007.10.005. PMC 2322858. PMID 18037151. 
  39. ^ Dieter A. Stürchler (2006). Exposure: a Guide to Sources of Infections. ASM Press. p. 181. ISBN 978-1-55581-376-5. 
  40. ^ a b Stewart-Wade, S. M.; Newmann, S.; Collins, L. L.; Boland, G. J. (2002). "The biology of Canadian weeds. 117. Taraxacum officinale G.H. Weber ex Wiggers". Canadian Journal of Plant Science 82: 825–853. doi:10.4141/P01-010. 
  41. ^ Richardson, Jonathan (1985). "In praise of the archenemy". Audubon 87: 37–39. 
  42. ^ "Making Rubber from Dandelion Juice". sciencedaily.com. sciencedaily.com. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  43. ^ "Fraunhofer and Continental come together when the dandelion rubber meets the road". Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
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