Taraxacum officinale

Scientific name

"Taraxacum officinale grows from generally unbranched taproots and produces one to more than ten stems that are typically 5-40 cm tall, but sometimes up to 70 cm tall. The stems can be tinted purplish, they are upright or lax, and produce flower heads that are held as tall or taller than the foliage. The foliage may be upright-growing or horizontally spreading; the leaves have petioles that are either unwinged or narrowly winged. The stems can be glabrous or sparsely covered with short hairs.

Plants have milky latex and the leaves are all basal; each flowering stem and has one single yellow flower head. In many lineages, fruits are mostly produced by apomixis. Apomixis is when a plant reproduces itself asexually without exchanging genetic material with other plant. Strategies to do this are the "replacement of the seed by a plantlet or replacement of the flower by bulbils"

The florets number 40 to over 100 per head, are yellow or orange-yellow in color that are visited by many types of insects, including bees, and is perceived as a serious competitor to flowering apple and pear trees for honeybee visits. However, it has been shown not to significantly affect fruit pollination. It is a useful host of pests, supports honey production, and is used in cooking and a beverage base.

Leaves and roots are used to treat a range of ailments from cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and inflammation and it is nutritious livestock feed, and suppresses some soil fungus and nematodes.

see https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/52773

Propagation instructions

By seed

Use living mulches, coarse wood or sawdust to control dandelion growth. During hand removal the tap root must be removed entirely or it will regrow. It will respond by growing back strong after cutting.

References and further reading

Learn more »

PlantZAfrica profile »

Wikipedia page »

Image credit: Walther Otto Müller

Can you help us remove this species?

This species is a difficult weed in our Fynbos patches. Can you help us remove it? See our activity calendar for upcoming activities, or arrange with us visit our Fynbos patches and do the weeding in your own time.

I can help!

Important characteristics

This species was selected because it is a difficult alien invasive weed in our Fynbos patch(es).

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