Common name: Common dandelion
Scientific name: Taraxacum officinale Weber
Life Cycle: Perennial
Origin: Europe
Poisonous: No

Dandelion is widespread across North America and is a commonly occurring plant in all types of pastures and turf. This is one of the most well-known weeds because of its bright yellow flowers and round, gray-to-white seed heads that are borne on a hollow stalk. Leaves of mature plants form a basal (arising from the base of a stem) rosette and the margins are deeply lobed and lack hairs. Some leaves might have a few hairs on the midrib (central vein of a leaf) or the underside of the leaf. Rosettes remain green throughout the year.

Common dandelion

Common dandelion

A deep, fleshy taproot (a primary root that grows vertically downward), often branching, contains buds near the soil surface and is one mechanism of reproduction. The other method of reproduction is by yellowish-brown achenes attached to a feathery pappus, which aids in windblown distribution over sizable distances. The leaves, taproot, and the flower stalk exude a milky liquid when cut.

These weeds are relatively easy to control with several herbicides; however, mowing is generally ineffective. Hoeing or digging the taproot is successful if at least half the root is removed. This should be done before the seed heads form. Consult your local Cooperative Extension Service personnel for information on herbicidal control in your area.

William W. Witt, PhD, a researcher in Plant and Soil Sciences, provided this information.

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