Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale officinale)

Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale officinale) 

Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale officinale) is a perennial forb in the Aster Family (Asteraceae) and order Asterales. The common name, "dandelion," refers to the similarity of the leaf teeth to the teeth of a lion. The species name, "officinale," is from the Latin for "sold in the marketplace." The genus name is from the Arabic/Persian words for "bitter herb." The yellow to orange ray flower heads look very much like the Fall Dandelion but are larger, typically about an inch and a half (3.8 centimeters) in diameter. However, the Common Dandelion blooms in spring and throughout summer, the flower stalk is thicker than the stalk of the Fall Dandelion and there is only one flower head per stem as seen in the photograph above. The flower heads consist of numerous ray flowers that can be easily mistaken for the flowers of the Mouse-ear Hawkweed or the Fall Dandelion. This plant flowers from late March to September on Mount Desert Island. The rays of the flower head are called florets and there are from 40 to over 100 florets per flower head. Each flower head is bisexual.

Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale officinale) 

The leaves are very long, ragged and narrow with very prominent teeth. They are basal, whorled and often hidden by other flowering plants or grasses. A leaf can be from two to 16 inches (five to 40 centimeters) long.

Common Dandelion Leaves 

 The flower stalk can be as tall as 18 inches (45 centimeters). These stems are sometimes purple in color and contain a milky, latex-like fluid. The bracts are pointed as shown in the photograph of a bud below.

Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale officinale) Bud

The fruit is a brown seed attached to a fluffy pappus (silky material that allows the seed to be blown by the wind), which is the primary means of propagation. At maturity, the seeds and the pappi replace the florets forming a silky, white flower head. The seeds can be blown by the wind for great distances. The following photograph shows a flower head gone to seed. The slightest breeze will detach the mature seeds.

Common Dandelion Seed Head 

The following photograph shows a detail of the seed head. Note how the brown seeds are attached to the feathery pappi  by white stalks.

Common Dandelion Seed Head Detail 

The root system is simple.

This plant is very common in late spring and all summer around French Hill Pond. The leaves are sometimes used in salads. This plant has also been used for medicinal purposes.


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