Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Taraxacum officinale, Common Dandelion

Common Dandelion has bright golden-yellow flowers (ligulate only) with 40 or more florets. The flowers are magnets for insects especially native and honey bee as seen here. Taraxacum officinale Common Dandelion flowering heads are surrounded in green to dark green bracts or phyllaries as shown in the photo. Taraxacum officinale Common Dandelion fruits are encased in a typical puff ball where the seeds are attached to a soft pale feathery white or tan pappi that assists in wind distribution. Taraxacum officinale Common Dandelion leaves are bright green with triangular lobes, often with tiny teeth as shown in the photo here. Taraxacum officinale Common Dandelion leaves are basal only in a rosette as shown in the photo. The leaves may be horizontal (ascending) to upright (erect) and are 10 inches (25 cm) long by 2.5 inches (6 cm) wide. Taraxacum officinale

Scientific Name: Taraxacum officinale
Common Name: Common Dandelion

Also Called: Blowball, Faceclock, Dandelion (Spanish: Diente de León, Achicoria Amarga, Amargón, Moraja)

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Taraxacum kok-saghyz, Taraxacum. vulgare, Taraxacum officinale ssp. vulgare, Taraxacum palustre var. vulgare)

Status: Naturalized; Introduced from Europe; Invasive

Duration: Perennial from a taproot

Size: Up to 1 foot (30 cm) tall or more.

Growth Form: Forb/herb, herbaceous plants; low growing with erect hollow flowering stems, 10 to 20; milky juice; plants mostly hairless (glabrous).

Leaves: Bright green; basal leaves only in a rosette, leaves horizontal (ascending) to upright (erect); leaves may be up to 10 inches (25 cm) long by 2.5 inches (6 cm) wide; the leaf stem or petiole is narrowly winged, leaves have triangular (lobes); (pinnatifid), often with tiny teeth; margin slightly wavy along their length; blades variable, generally oblanceolate to oblong.

Flower Color: Bright golden-yellow; ligulate flower heads with 40 or more florets; fruit is a cypsela with a classic rounded fluffy head of silver-tufted seeds, dispersed by the wind.

Flowering Season: April to September but may bloom throughout the year in Arizona and elsewhere.

Elevation: To 9,000 feet (2,743 m)

Habitat Preferences: Lower and upper deserts, pine and chaparral communities, sunny open places, riparian areas, damp areas, meadows, lawns, gardens and roadsides.

Recorded Range: Widespread throughout all of North America and Baja California and northern, central and southern Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Taraxacum officinale.

North America species range map for Common Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale; shown here are both sub-species, Taraxacum officinale ssp. ceratophorum, native, shown in green on the map; and Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale, Invasive, shown in red on the map.

Common Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale: Click image for full size map
Click image for full size map

U.S. Weed Information: In North America Taraxacum officinale can be weedy or invasive according to the following authoritative sources:

  • Weeds of Kentucky and adjacent states: a field guide,
  • Weeds of the Northeast,
  • Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains,
  • Weeds of the United States and Canada,
  • Weeds of the West.

  • Plants included here may become weedy or invasive.

    U.S. Wetland Indicator: In North America Taraxacum officinale has the following wetland designations:
  • Alaska, FACU
  • Arid West, FACU
  • Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain, FACU;
  • Eastern Mountains and Piedmont, FACU;
  • Great Plains, FACU;
  • Midwest, FACU;
  • Northcentral & Northeast, FACU;
  • Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, FACU;

  • FACU = Facultative Upland, usually occur in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands.

    Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: Unknown
    Threatened/Endangered Information: Unknown

    Genus Information: In North America there are 9 species and 9 accepted taxa overall for Taraxacum. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 2,332 accepted species names and a further 203 scientific names of infraspecific rank for Taraxacum.

    The genus Taraxacum was published in 1780 by Friedrich Heinrich Wiggers, (Fridrich Hindrich) (1746-1811).

    In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, California, New Mexico and Utah each have 3 species of Taraxacum and Nevada and Texas each have 2 species. Data approximate, subject to revision.

    There are 2 sub-species in Taraxacum officinale;
    Taraxacum officinale ssp. ceratophorum, Common Dandelion ((Native) all of Canada and northward, western U.S. excluding AZ);
    Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale, Common Dandelion ((Invasive) Eastern U.S., Arizona and Mexico).

    Comments: Common Dandelion is a common introduced species from Europe with a small but attractive flower. It is pleasantly aromatic with a attractive look. This species is both famous and infamous; It can be an aggressive invasive weed in lawns and gardens and may be difficult to remove; while wine is made from the flowers and its leaves are favored by many as greens for salads while the roots are thought to have medicinal properties are also used in salads.

    Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
    The Common Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale has small but attractive, fragrant flowers, the flowers and their seeds may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents and granivorous birds in search of nectar or food. Across North America, the Common Dandelion is eagerly consumed by cattle and other livestock, by birds including the Sharp-tailed Grouse, Greater Prairie Chicken, Sage Grouse and by ungulates including Bighorn Sheep, Grizzle and Black Bear, Deer and Elk throughout the growing the season and whenever available.

    Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Honey Bees and Insects
    The Common Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale has small but attractive, fragrant flowers, and is an important source of nectar and pollen; the flowers and their plants may be visited by butterflies, moths, flies, honeybees, Native Bees and other insects in search of food and nectar.

    U.S. Forest Service; Fire Effects Information System (FEIS)
    See the U.S. Forest Service online collection of reviews of the scientific literature for management considerations of Common Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, here.

    The genus “Taraxacum” (Tarax'acum:) is a medieval name traceable through Arabic to the Persian talkh chakok, meaning “bitter herb”.

    The genus Taraxacum was published in 1780 by Friedrich Heinrich Wiggers, (Fridrich Hindrich) (1746-1811).

    The species epithet officinale (officina'le:) sold as an herb, often applied to plants with real or supposed medicinal qualities.

    The Common Dandelion Taraxacum officinale is used for a multitude of purposes by United States indigenous peoples.
  • Aleut Drug, Dermatological; Gastrointestinal; Throat Aid; Poultice of steamed or wilted leaves applied to indolent ulcers; Poultice of steamed or wilted leaves applied to stomachaches; Poultice of steamed or wilted leaves applied to sore throats.
  • Algonquin, Quebec Drug; Blood Medicine; Poultice; Greens eaten to purify the blood; Leaves used for plasters or poultices.
  • Apache, Chiricahua & Mescalero Food, Spice; Flower used to flavor drinks and make them stronger.
  • Bella Coola Drug, Analgesic; Gastrointestinal Aid; Decoction of roots taken for stomach pain; Decoction of root taken for stomach pain.
  • Cherokee Drug, Blood Medicine; Sedative; Toothache Remedy; Unspecified; Vegetable;; Infusion of root used for blood; Infusion of herb used to 'calm nerves'; Chewed for toothache; Leaves and stems used as medicine; Leaves and stems used for potherbs and salads.
  • Chippewa Drug, Gynecological Aid; Compound infusion of root taken to produce postpartum milk flow.
  • Delaware Drug, Laxative; Oklahoma Drug, Laxative; Oklahoma Drug and Tonic; Plant used to make a laxative-tonic; Plant used to make a 'laxative-tonic'; Plant used to make a 'laxative-tonic.'
  • Hesquiat Other, Toys & Games; Hollow stems made into whistles.
  • Hoh Drug, Unspecified; Used for medicine.
  • Iroquois Drug, Analgesic; Analgesic; Analgesic;; Compound decoction of dried plants taken for pain; Compound infusion of roots and bark taken for back pain and Infusion of flowers, roots and roots from another plant taken for lower back pain.
  • Iroquois Drug, Blood Medicine; Dermatological Aid; Dermatological Aid; Emetic; Decoction of plants taken for anemia; Compound decoction of bark and roots taken for sores caused by bad blood; Compound infusion of plants and roots taken and used as wash for liver spots.
  • Iroquois Drug, Emetic; Eye Medicine; Kidney Aid; Laxative; Infusion of roots taken as an emetic; Compound infusion of roots and bark taken for dark circles and puffy eyes; Compound infusion of roots and bark taken for kidney trouble and dropsy; Compound decoction of flowers and leaves taken as a laxative.
  • Iroquois Drug, Love Medicine; Orthopedic; Pulmonary Air; Decoction of roots used as wash for a love medicine; Compound infusion of roots and bark taken for back pain; Compound decoction of dried plants taken for swollen lungs.
  • Iroquois Drug, Toothache Remedy; Urinary Aids; Witchcraft Medicine; Vegetables; Flower stem chewed for worms in the teeth that cause decay; Decoction of plants used as wash on parts affected by smashed testicles, Poultice of smashed flowers applied to swollen testicles; Decoction of roots used as a wash for an anti-witch medicine; Used to make wine; Cooked and seasoned with salt, pepper or butter; Young plants boiled and eaten as greens.
  • Kiowa Drug, Gynecological Aid, Food, Vegetable; Decoction of young leaves taken by women for menstrual cramps; Young leaves used as greens.
  • Malecite Food, Unspecified; Species used for food
  • Menominee Food, Vegetable; Leaves cooked with maple sap vinegar for a dish of greens.
  • Meskwaki Drug, Pulmonary Aid; Food, Vegetable; Infusion of root taken for chest pain when other remedies fail; Spring leaves used as greens and cooked with pork.
  • Micmac Food, Vegetable; Leaves used as greens in food.
  • Mohegan Drug, Cathartic; Tonic; Infusion of plant taken as a physic, Strong infusion of dried leaves taken as a physic; Compound decoction or infusion of plants taken as a spring tonic, Compound infusion of root taken as a tonic.

  • See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    Date Profile Completed: 07/18/2012; updated 11/24/2020
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search; accessed 11/19/2020.
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet;; accessed 11/19/2020.
    Luc Brouillet, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 19, 20 and 21 | Asteraceae; Taraxacum, 1. Taraxacum officinale F. H. Wiggers, Prim. Fl. Holsat. 56. 1780.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    Luc Brouillet 2012, Taraxacum officinale, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on November 24, 2020.
    FNA 2006, Kearney and Peebles 1969, McDougall 1973; Editor: L.Crumbacher 2011; from SEINet Field Guide, on-line; accessed 11/19/2020.
    Esser, Lora L. 1993. Taraxacum officinale. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [2020, November 19].
    John Hilty; Illinois Wildflowers; accessed 11/19/2020.
    Seiler, John, Peterson, John, North American species range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
    Etymology:Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 11/19/2020)
    IPNI (2020). International Plant Names Index. Published on the Internet, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries and Australian National Botanic Gardens. [Retrieved 19 November 2020].