(Taraxacum officinale Weber)

Interesting Information About Plant:      

     The dandelion is an extraordinary plant.  Its name comes form the French “dents de lion” meaning “teeth of lion”.  Therefore, one of the nicknames for this plant is Lions Tooth.  This is because some say that the jagged edges of the leaves resemble the jaws and teeth of a lion. Another name for the flower is ‘blow ball’ or ‘puffball’.  When the plant does to seed, the flower turns into a white puffball.  Many children get a lot of enjoyment out making a wish and blowing the seeds away! Bees also visit dandelion flowers and beekeepers say that this plant helps produce some of the best honey. Dandelions have the ability to regrow time and time again after being mowed with a lawn mower because of their fat taproot system which allows the storage of enough energy to send up a new flower many times after the flower head is removed.

     History concerning the dandelion dates back to the early colonists who brought it to North America, where people valued it for medicinal and nutritional benefits.  While many people think it to be a pesky weed, it is actually a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc.  The leaves and roots help stimulate digestion and are mild laxatives.  This might have made the dandelion an effective medicine for people with poor liver functions.  The roots can be roasted and used to flavor coffee or the leaves can be used in salads. The flowers can be breaded and fried and taste like mushrooms after they have been cooked. Many other food products can be made with dandelion leaves, flowers, and even the root such as; dandelion beer, wine, butter, salad, and jelly just to name a few.

Common Name(s): Dandelion, Lions Tooth, Blowball

Scientific Name: Taraxacum officinale Weber

Family Name (Scientific and Common): Compositae (Sunflower Family)

Continent of Origin: Europe and/or Asia

Plant Growth Habit: Ground Cover

Height at Maturity: Less than 1 foot

Life Span: Perennial 

Seasonal Habit: Herbaceous That Mostly Dies Back in Winter

Growth Habitat: Full Sun or Shade

Manner of Culture: Weed

Thorns on Younger Stem: No

Cross Section of Younger Stem: Roundish   

Stem (or Trunk) Diameter: Less Than The Diameter of a Pencil; Mostly Underground    

Produces Brownish Bark: No

Bark Peeling in Many Areas: No

Characteristics of Mature (Brownish) Bark: No Mature Bark (all green)

Type of Leaf: Flat, Thin Leaf  

Length of Leaf (or Leaflet): Between the Length of a Credit Card and a Writing-Pen

Leaf Complexity: Simple

Edge of Leaf: Highly Serrated or Lobed

Leaf Arrangement: Rosette

Leaf has Petiole: No

Patterns of Main-Veins on Leaf (or Leaflet): Parallel   

Leaf Hairiness: No Hairs

Color of Foliage in Summer: Green   

Change in Color of Foliage in October: No Change   

Flowering Season: Spring and Autumn

Flowers: Tightly Clustered into a Single "Head" Inflorescence  

Type of Flower: Colorful Flower

Color of Flower: Yellow  

Shape of Individual Flower: Radially Symmetrical

Size of Individual Flower: About the Size of a Quarter  

Sexuality: Hermaphroditic Flower 

Size of Fruit: Smaller than a Quarter 

Fruit Fleshiness: Dry

Shape of Fruit: Oblong

Color of Fruit at Maturity: Brownish Dry

Fruit Desirable to Birds or Squirrels: No   

Louisville Plants That Are Most Easily Confused With This One: Plaintain, Rumex

Unique Morphological Features of Plant: Fat taproot which allows the plant to store enough energy to have its head cut off several times, and a parachute like seed that floats in the wind dispersing the seed to a new location.

Poisonous: None of Plant

Pestiness (weedy, hard to control): Yes


Page prepared by: 

Sam LeMay & Chelsea Bibelhauser                November 2004

Information - 502.452.8000
© Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY 2002-2004