Dandelion

(Taraxacum officinale)

Type: perennial

Flower       Seed

  

Plant Description: 

This perennial herb is distinguished by its basal leaves with jagged edges, hollow stems that are leafless and terminate in a single yellow flower, and fluffy white seed heads. At maturity, all plant parts exude a milky juice if cut. Reproduce is by wind-blown seeds. Also, plants regenerate from root fragments.

  • Root system - The species has a deep, thick, branched taproot that exudes a milky juice if cut.
  • Seedlings & Shoots - Seed leaves (cotyledons) are pale, dull, yellowish-green, oval, and have smooth edges. Young leaves form a basal rosette and are oval to oblong with long hollow leaf stalks (petioles).
  • Stems - Stems are erect, 2 to 12 inches tall, hollow, leafless, filled with milky juice, and terminate in a single flower head.
  • Leaves - Leaves are basal, bright green, thin, hairless, between 3 to 10 inches long, and jagged around the edges with lobes or teeth of various sizes and shapes. The terminal lobe is usually largest and lobes become smaller and more deeply divided toward the leaf base. Leaves are alternate (1 leaf per node), which is difficult to distinguish because stems are so compressed that nodes are generally at or below the soil surface. The leaf base tapers into a hollow, short petiole. Mature leaves exude a milky juice when cut or broken.
  • Flowers - The bright yellow, 1- to 2-inch-wide flowers form at the tips of long, hollow, flower stems. Flowers mature into fluffy white seed heads.
  • Fruits & Seeds - The single-seeded fruits are brownish, narrow, about 3/16 inch long, and tapering to a slender beak that is 2 to 3 times as long as the seed. At the top of the beak are soft, white, bristly hairs (pappus).
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    Biology: 

    Flowers form mostly in April and May, but flowers have been known to appear as early as February and as late as June. In some locations, secondary flowering occurs in autumn. Plants generally remain vegetative and do not initiate flowering until a satisfactory number of leaves form. Therefore, plants growing in tall grass without ample moisture and sunlight will usually not flower and may not survive. Total sunlight received determines leaf shape; plants growing in full sun have deeply-toothed, thick, green leaves compared with shade leaves that are slightly-toothed, thin, and pale. Estimates of the number of seeds produced per plant each year range from 3,000 to 23,000.

     

    Soure: http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/singlerecord.asp?id=950

     

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