Taraxacum officinale F.H. Wigg.
T. officinale subsp. vulgare
Taraxacum officinale subsp. vulgare
Common Dandelion, Dandelion
Dandelions inhabit temperate regions throughout the world. Their ability to hunker down and escape the mower blades makes them a bane to many lawn owners, but these robust plants produce beautiful flowers and seed heads. Plants have long thick tap roots, almost like carrots, that sustain them through the winter and make it difficult to remove them.
Identification: Dandelions sometimes reach heights of 28" (70 cm), but that is the height of some of the flowerheads. All the leaves emerge from the ground (basal), in a rosette around the center. Leaves may be nearly flat, or more upright, and they are up to 10" (25 cm) long, but only about 1" (2.5 cm) or less wide. The narrow leaves are heavily divided, looking almost ragged. Long, round, hollow, somewhat shiny stems, ⅛-³/₁₆" (3.2-5 mm) around, support a single flower. Stems are dull green or purple. Broken stems emit a white, sticky substance. Dandelions are members of the aster family, and their deep yellow flowerheads, ¾-1¾" (1.9-4.4 cm) across, resemble other asters. Each flower is composed of dozens or hundreds of florets. Seed heads are about the size of a golf ball, perfectly round, grayish-white. Dozens or hundreds of seeds, each equipped with its own parachute, emerge from the center, breaking off in the slightest breeze.
Edibility: Young dandelion greens are boiled for 5-10 minutes, thoroughly drained, and served hot with salt, pepper, and butter, or added to soup. The greens are quite bitter, and sometimes mixed half and half with spinach. Give the dandelions a head start in this case, since they take longer to cook. Pick the greens before any flowers appear. They can also be added to salads, but don’t use too many. Dandelions can be made into beer, and the flowers into wine. Even the roots can be baked in a slow oven until brown, ground like coffee, and made into a delicious coffee-like beverage.
Taraxacum officinale on Wikipedia
Taraxacum officinale at Botanical.com
Taraxacum officinale on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants
Taraxacum officinale on the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide
Taraxacum officinale University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program
Taraxacum officinale on eFloras
Taraxacum officinale on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database
Taraxacum officinale description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 4 Jul 2015.