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Home > Weeds > Dandelion

Dandelion—Taraxacum officinale

A perennial member of the daisy family, dandelions can reduce the aesthetic quality of lawns and turf and can be a weed pest in gardens. Not everyone considers dandelions a weed, however—they can be considered attractive, they are edible to humans in a variety of ways, are high in nutritional value for humans and animals, and are important for insects, including bees and butterflies.

dandelion seedlings dandelion flowers dandelion seed heads
Leaves are deeply serrated and grow from the base of the plant atop a strong taproot which grows 6 to 18 inches long. The name dandelion comes from the shape of the leaves: den-delion=tooth of the lion. Bright yellow flower heads, 1 to 2 inches across, consist of 100 to 300 ray flowers, and sit atop stalks 6 to 24 inches tall. Stalks and roots exude a milky substance when cut. Seeds form in a parachute–like structure called a pappus. Seeds can be transported many miles by the wind.

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[Photos, left to right: Joseph M. DiTomaso, University of California - Davis,; Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service,; Joseph M. DiTomaso, University of California - Davis,]

It is the policy of the State of Maine to minimize reliance on pesticides. The Maine Department of Agriculture and the Maine IPM Council encourage everyone to practice integrated pest management and to use pesticides only as a last resort. The mention of pesticides in the fact sheets linked to these pages does not imply an endorsement of any product. Be sure that any product used is currently registered and follow all label directions.