Photo courtesy of Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte, bugwood.org
Taraxacum officinale Weber.
Scientific Name Synonyms:
Life Span: Perennial
Growth Characteristics: A 5 to 40 inch tall forb with erect stems that contain a bitter, milky-white juice. It has a fleshy, deep taproot. It flowers April to October and reproduces from seeds and sprouts.
Flowers/Inflorescence: Yellow colored, located on the tip of the leafless stem. It becomes a ball of white silky bristles at maturity.
Fruits/Seeds:Seeds of dandelion are topped by a parachute of bristles that aid in dispersal.
Leaves: Basal, deeply lobed, 2 to 16 inches long, and forming a rosette. Surfaces of leaves can be lightly pubescent.
Dandelion is widespread throughout Utah and North America. It most commonly occurs in disturbed areas such as cut-over or burned forests, avalanche areas, overgrazed ranges, and marshy floodplains. It also occurs on highway and railroad rights-of-way, waste places, old fields, pastures, and lawns. It grows at elevations between 500 and 11,000 feet.
Dandelion can reproduce vegetatively by sprouting from the caudex after disturbance
Soils: Found on a variety of soils, but most common in heavy loams and sandy loams.
Associated Species: Foxtail barley, thistle, Kentucky bluegrass.
Uses and Management:
Dandelions provide fair to good forage for livestock and wildlife, and are readily eaten because they are relatively succulent. Antelope, as well as sage and forest grouse, use it heavily. It is a species that inhabits disturbed areas. It is generally abundant on overgrazed rangelands, but can also occur on well-managed ranges.
Young leaves can be eaten as spring greens. Roots can be ground and used as a coffee substitute, mild laxative, or to treat heartburn. It is a good honey plant. Tea and wine can be made from the flowers. Flowers can be fried in batter and eaten.