SCIENTIFIC NAME: Taraxacum officinale
COMMON NAME(S): Common Dandelion
FAMILY: ASTERACEAE (COMPOSITAE) - Sunflower family
ORIGIN: Northern Hemisphere
HABITAT: Lawns, fields, pastures, disturbed areas
CHARACTERISTICS: Stem short, with a long, thick taproot and milky sap
LEAVES: Alternate, but borne in a basal cluster, 2-18" long, simple, oblong, variously toothed or dissected, most frequently with triangular lobes of which the terminal is the largest; leaf stem often winged
FLOWERS: Yellow, small, congested into a solitary, round head, 1-3" wide, borne at the tip of a leafless stem
FLOWERING SEASON: Spring to fall
FRUITS: Small, dry, 1-seeded, with a tuft of feathery hairs at the tip; the fruits clustered together form a spherical "puffball"
ALLERGENIC PRINCIPLES: Probably sesquiterpene lactones
ALLERGENIC PROPERTIES: Dermatological
COMMENTS: The common dandelion has been occasionally implicated as a cause of contact dermatitis. According to some taxonomic accounts, the dandelion cannot properly be called T. officinale. Unfortunately, no other correct name for this plant has yet been determined.