DANDELION
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Taraxacum officinale  F.H. Wigg.
Riley County, Kansas
Perennial
Height: 2-16 inches
Family: Asteraceae - Sunflower Family
Flowering Period:   April, May, June, July, August, September
Stems: Stemless
Leaves: In basal rosette, simple, crowded, 20+, horizontal to erect, oblong-lanceolate in outline, 1.6 to 12 inches long, .4 to 6 inches wide, containing milky sap; margins variously lobed to toothed; terminal lobe often largest, rounded-triangular; surfaces often lightly pubescent, particularly below and on midvein; tapering at base to narrowly winged, indistinct stalk.
Inflorescences: Head, solitary, .4 to 1.2 inch wide, terminal on leafless flowering stalk; flowering stalks 1 to 10, erect or ascending, hollow, soft-hairy to glabrous.
Flowers: Involcure bell-shaped, .6 to 1 inch tall; involcural bracts in 2 series; outer bracts lanceolate, 13-20, short, reflexed with age, sometimes purplish; inner bracts mostly 13-23, long, erect; florets ray-like, .4 to .6 inch long, 40-100+, yellow.
Fruits: Achene, cone-shaped, slightly flattened, 1/8 to 1/6 inch long, brownish, tapering to thin beak, tipped with numerous white bristles, resembling ribbed parachute, enclosing small seed. Mature achenes and pappus form conspicuous balls.
Habitat: Lawns, waste areas, pastures, disturbed sites, roadsides, stream banks, crop and fallow fields, damp low areas; all soil types.
Distribution: Throughout Kansas.
Origin: Native and introduced. Research at the molecular level has shown that some Taraxacum were native to North America but most originated from Eurasia.
Reproduction: By seeds
Forage Value: Readily consumed by livestock but provides only fair forage value. Rabbits, wild turkeys, deer and small mammals eat the leaves. Prairie chickens and other birds eat the seeds.
Uses: The large taproot has been used as a coffee substitute, the flowering heads made into wine, and the green leaves used in salads. The leaves are a source of vitamin A and iron and are said to supply higher levels than spinach. Mature leaves are bitter. Native Americans used the leaves as greens and pot herbs, made a poultice of steamed leaves which was applied to stomachaches and sore throats, took a tea of the roots for heartburn and anemia, and steeped the whole plant and took the liquid as a laxative. The hollow flowering stems were made into whistles.
Comments: Dandelion is an abundant weed. From French dent de lion, "tooth of the lion", probably alluding to the leaf shape.
 The basal rosette of leaves resembles that of tuber false dandelionPyrrhopappus grandiflorus

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