Dandelions initially form a prostrate rosette, but later develop more ascending foliage in the middle of the clump. Foliage is dark green and hairless. Leaves are 6 to 12 inches long, about 1 inch wide at its widest point, and deeply lobed. Due to deep lobes, foliage appears similar to the teeth on a pruning saw, with the tips of the teeth arching back towards the center of the plant.
Dandelion flowers are actually composed of thousands of small ray flowers.
Flowers of plants in the family Asteraceae have ray and/or disk flowers. Ray flowers, as seen on dandelion, are only noticed by their strap-shaped corolla. Disk flowers are tubular and generally occur in the center of the flower. The sunflower is probably the best example of a plant with both flower types on the same head, with the disk flowers making up the dark center and the ray flowers making up the decorative yellow petal-like structures circling the flower head.
Favorable environment notes:
Dandelion weeds prefer full sun and moist soils, but can survive in light shade and drier conditions upon establishment. They can become major problems in pastures, untilled orchards or field plantings such as Christmas trees, ornamental plantings and turf grass.
Dandelion seeds are quite small and have an attached structure, much like a tiny parachute, called a pappus. The pappus, with a white cotton-like appearance, aids in wind dispersal. Dandelion seed heads form a white sphere which disperses with a slight breeze. Seeds can travel for miles via wind currents.
Dandelions, also known as lion’s tooth, produce a very strong taproot that commonly penetrates 6 to 18 inches into the soil. It is capable of depths much deeper however. Small root chunks left in soil during cultivation or hand weeding can form new plants. Care must be taken to ensure entire root is removed to prevent new patches of infestation. Dandelion will regenerate from roots left in the soil when using tools such as ‘root pullers’.
The dandelion originates from Europe and it has been used medicinal plant since Roman times. It is high vitamins and minerals and many of its parts are used in teas and salads.