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Another Dandelion?

Fall Dandelion - Leontodon autumnalis

This blog is named for the common weed, dandelion or Taraxacum officinale. In the spring my lawn is covered with dandelions. I have learned not to use the lawn clippings from that season  as mulch because I put dandelions in my perennial beds.  Sometimes I don’t even put those clippings with lots of dandelions gone to see in the compost. I am not sure my compost pile gets hot enough to kill those seeds.

Now my lawn is dotted with a smaller yellow flower.  I had been thinking this was hawkweed, but when I actually checked with my Peterson’s Guide to Wildflowers, I realized that this yellow flower is another dandelion, the fall dandelion, sometimes called false dandelion, but it is in another family. Its proper name is Leontodon autumnalis.

Like the familiar spring dandelion, the fall dandelion has a rosette of toothed leaves, but they are very narrow. The name Leontodon refer to the toothed leaves, as dent de lion (teeth of the lion) refer to the dandelion’s leaves. The rosette appears in the spring; in the fall a wiry stem appears very quickly. It will grow between 5 to 15 inches, but it does not have the milky sap of the dandelion.

The shaggy flower looks like a miniature dandelion blossom, but the underside of the petals are a rusty red.  I was happy to learn that I am not the only person who has ever mistaken the fall dandelion for hawkweed.  I used to have the orange hawkweed (Hieracium aurentiacum, yet another family) in my lawn, but it has disappeared.

From the photograph with this post you can see my lawn is not fine turf.  Some might call it a typical weedy patch. I prefer to think of it as a flowery mead, with a whole series of flowers appearing in their season, violets, ground ivy, and lots of clover.

If it weren’t for Gail over at Clay and Limestone and Wildflower Wednesday I would probably not have done this bit of research to identify the wildflowers all over my lawn. Thanks, Gail.

3 comments to Another Dandelion?

  • Pat, Thank you~I had my own oops moment with Sneezeweed; I really wanted it to be another plant! I kind of like dandelions when in bloom and they do provide nectar for our visitors after a chilly winter. Love your weedy patch, it looks like mine. I’ve been trying to get white yarrow to grow in it~No luck yet! gail

  • I didn’t even realize there was such a thing as fall dandelions, Pat! I just love this Wildflower Wednesday meme, because, like you, I am learning about so many different plants I’ve seen but never knew what they were. If you don’t mind, I might just borrow that term “flowery mead” to describe my own lawn:)

  • Pat

    Gail – Dandelions are an important nectar plant early in the spring. I never complain. I do have white yarrow growing along my roadside. People think it is our driveway, but it is town roadside. Lucky for us.
    Rose – I love the term flowery mead – and I recommend wide usage.

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