DANDELION-Taraxacum officinale Weber
DESCRIPTION: A low tufted perennial from a long thick branched taproot, reproducing by seeds and by new shoots from the root crowns. There are no true stems, and the leaves are clustered at the base of the plant. They form a rosette on the ground, or are ascending to upright. The leaves vary greatly in size and robing. They are from 2 to 12 inches long, and usually divided into few or several indistinct pairs of lobes, which are pointed or blunt at the tips. Often the lobe at the tip of the leaf is much larger, and triangular in shape.
The flower heads are 1 to 2 inches across, and composed entirely of golden yellow petallike flowers or rays. The flower heads are solitary at the end of long naked hollow flower stalks, which are 3 inches to 2 or more feet long. The strapshaped ray flowers are 5-notched at the tip. There are 100 to 300 in each head. The achenes are greenish or light brown, about 1/8 inch long, 5-to 8-ribbed on each side, and minutely toothed with tiny curved spines along the upper margins. The achene ends in a long slender beak 2 or 4 times as long as the body of the achene, and is attached to a tuft of fine silky whitish parachutelike hairs which are persistent.
DISTRIBUTION: Dandelion is a European introduction. It grows in moist places, and is a much-hated pest in lawns throughout the state. It also grows in the cultivated fields and croplands, along roadsides, in yards, gardens, pastures, and on overgrazed or eroded areas in open mountain meadows of the high mountain ranges, or in moist soil along streams in lower ranges; 100 to 9,000 feet elevation; flowering in some places almost the year around. It is good forage on the ranges, and is especially relished by sheep.
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