Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Taraxacum officinale


SPECIES: Taraxacum officinale
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : 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: [].
ABBREVIATION : TAROFF SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : TAOF COMMON NAMES : common dandelion dandelion TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for common dandelion is Taraxacum officinale Weber [134]. There are no recognized subspecies, varieties, or forms. LIFE FORM : Forb FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Taraxacum officinale
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Common dandelion is of Eurasian origin but has become naturalized throughout the United States.  It occurs in all 50 states, almost all Canadian provinces, and Mexico [62,126]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES10  White - red - jack pine    FRES11  Spruce - fir    FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine    FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine    FRES14  Oak - pine    FRES15  Oak - hickory    FRES16  Oak - gum - cypress    FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood    FRES18  Maple - beech - birch    FRES19  Aspen - birch    FRES20  Douglas-fir    FRES21  Ponderosa pine    FRES22  Western white pine    FRES23  Fir - spruce    FRES24  Hemlock - Sitka spruce    FRES25  Larch    FRES26  Lodgepole pine    FRES27  Redwood    FRES28  Western hardwoods    FRES29  Sagebrush    FRES30  Desert shrub    FRES32  Texas savanna    FRES33  Southwestern shrubsteppe    FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub    FRES35  Pinyon - juniper    FRES36  Mountain grasslands    FRES37  Mountain meadows    FRES38  Plains grasslands    FRES39  Prairie    FRES40  Desert grasslands    FRES41  Wet grasslands    FRES42  Annual grasslands    FRES44  Alpine STATES :      AL  AK  AZ  AR  CA  CO  CT  DE  FL  GA      HI  ID  IL  IN  IA  KS  KY  LA  ME  MD      MA  MI  MN  MS  MO  MT  NE  NV  NH  NJ      NM  NY  NC  ND  OH  OK  OR  PA  RI  SC      SD  TN  TX  UT  VT  VA  WA  WV  WI  WY      AB  BC  MB  NB  NF  NT  NS  ON  PQ  SK      YT  MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     1  Northern Pacific Border     2  Cascade Mountains     3  Southern Pacific Border     4  Sierra Mountains     5  Columbia Plateau     6  Upper Basin and Range     7  Lower Basin and Range     8  Northern Rocky Mountains     9  Middle Rocky Mountains    10  Wyoming Basin    11  Southern Rocky Mountains    12  Colorado Plateau    13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont    14  Great Plains    15  Black Hills Uplift    16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    Dandelion is found in nearly all Kuchler Plant Associations. SAF COVER TYPES :    Common dandelion is found in nearly all SAF cover types. SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Common dandelion is an indicator species in ruderal vegetation types in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Washington [51,137].


SPECIES: Taraxacum officinale
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Common dandelion is a preferred food of domestic sheep grazing on mountain meadows [83] and is readily eaten by cattle on rough fescue (Festuca scabrella) prairies in Alberta [38].  Common dandelion is commonly eaten in the spring by sharp-tailed grouse [89].  It is a minor component of bighorn sheep diets in the Upper Yellowstone Valley [63] and is an important food for pocket gophers on mountain grasslands of Colorado [132]. Common dandelion is an important source of nectar and pollen for bees in Alaska [96].  Common dandelion is consumed by deer and elk in the spring, summer, and fall in meadows of the Rocky Mountains [73]. In Yellowstone National Park, common dandelion is an important food for grizzly bears in summer.  Peak use in in June [82].  Leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers were found in grizzly and black bear scats in Glacier National Park [65]. In Alberta, black bears browse on earlier phenological stages of common dandelion (spring and early summer) because of the higher nutrient quality.  Common dandelion is one of the dominant species found in spring bear scats [52]. During prenesting through incubation of greater prairie chicken broods (April-May) on the Sheyenne National Grasslands in North Dakota, common dandelion flowers were one of the primary diet items.  Individual fecal samples contained up to 96 percent common dandelion flowers during April and May [106]. Common dandelion is one of the favored foods of sage grouse in the spring, summer, and fall in Nevada.  Of all meadow forbs consumed, common dandelion contributed 82 percent to spring forb diets [40,67].  In British Columbia, deer consumed common dandelion at significantly higher (P<0.05) rates on harvested lodgepole pine sites than on unharvested sites [28].     PALATABILITY : Common dandelion is more palatable to wildlife and livestock in prebloom stages than in postbloom stages [81].  It is poor to fair in palatability on ponderosa pine sites throughout the West [85]. Palatability ratings for common dandelion from selected western states are as follows [37]:                               UT     CO     WY     MT     ND Cattle                       good   good   fair   fair   good Sheep                        good   good   good   good   good Horses                       good   good   fair   good   good Elk                          good   ----   good   good   ---- Mule deer                    good   ----   good   fair   fair White-tailed deer            ----   ----   good   fair   fair Pronghorn                    good   ----   good   good   fair Upland game birds            good   ----   good   good   good Waterfowl                    fair   ----   poor   ----   good Small nongame birds          fair   ----   fair   fair   fair Small mammals                good   ----   fair   fair   fair NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Protein content of dandelion exceeds the minimum requirement needed for body maintenance for deer in ponderosa pine communities [94].  Common dandelion meets the nutritional requirements of beef cattle in Alberta [16]. Protein and manganese content increase from early June to early July, when it is harvested on ranges in Alberta.  By late September, protein content decreases significantly [16]. Chemical composition (in percent) of common dandelion from an irrigated pasture during 1986 was as follows [16]:                        June 3       July 7       September 24       Average Acid detergent fiber   28.1         22.4         25.8               25.4 Crude protein          13.8         22.8         14.7               17.1 Ca                     1.21         1.55         1.61               1.46 P                      0.30         0.48         0.29               0.36 Mg                     0.31         0.47         0.50               0.43 K                      2.58         2.24         2.46               2.43 COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Common dandelion has low short-term and long-term revegetation potential on disturbed sites.  Erosion-control potential is low [37]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : The Gwich'in Athabaskan Indians of Fort Yukon, Alaska frequently eat the leaves of common dandelion in salads or boil and eat them [54].  Roots of common dandelion can be ground and used as a mild laxative or to treat heartburn.  Tea and wine can be made from flowers [140]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Common dandelion is an invader species that commonly inhabits overgrazed rangelands [85].  Common dandelion availability for deer decreases on cattle-grazed sites [7]. Common dandelion meets the nutritional requirements of beef cattle and is readily grazed by them [16].  Producers may want to control common dandelion in irrigated pastures to restrict seed movement to adjacent land where common dandelion may be undesirable [16]. Common dandelion is a threat in upper forest and alpine zones of western Montana because of its ability to invade little disturbed or undisturbed native vegetation through seed dispersal [133].  In Montana, common dandelion seedlings compete with conifer seedlings on forest sites.  Grass seeding on these sites will eventually decrease the common dandelion population in 4 to 5 years [14]. Clearcuts and thinning of forests stimulates common dandelion production.  Sage grouse and deer populations benefit from increased production of common dandelion [10].  Sage grouse habitat loss due to development and postdevelopment land use can be minimized by regulation of livestock on important adjacent nondeveloped lands [10]. Common dandelion can be readily controlled with 2,4-D.  It is most effective to spray in early spring before first bloom.  Sites should not be mown for 3 to 5 days before spraying or 1 to 2 days after [92]. Strip spraying in Idaho in relatively high annual precipitation (13 inches [33 cm]) areas benefits sage grouse brood-rearing habitat due to quick recovery of common dandelion and other forbs.  Average cover of common dandelion in sprayed areas was 17.2 percent, whereas average cover in nonsprayed areas was 11.2 percent [23]. A decrease in the population of common dandelion occurs where pocket gophers are present.  When gophers were removed, common dandelion population increased by 50 percent in 2 years on mountain grasslands and meadows of Colorado, Utah, and Oregon [42].


SPECIES: Taraxacum officinale
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Common dandelion is an introduced, cool-season, perennial forb [140].  It has a thick taproot up to 6 inches (15.2 cm) long [135].  Stems are very short and wholly underground, producing a rosette of leaves at the ground surface.  Leaves are 2 to 16 inches (5-40 cm) long [134].  The flower heads are solitary at the end of naked, hollow stalks.  Stalks can reach heights up to 2 feet (60 cm) [126,135].  One head contains from 100 to 300 flowers [126].  Seeds of common dandelion are topped by a parachute of bristles that aid in dissemination [55]. Common dandelion forms vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal associations [15,37].     RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Hemicryptophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Common dandelion reproduces apomictically through parthenogenesis [62].  Plants develop from unfertilized gametes.  Common dandelion is an aggressive seed producer and reproduces mainly from seed [42].  Seeds travel a considerable distance because of the parachuting effect produced by the spreading pappus.  In a tallgrass prairie in Iowa, achenes of common dandelion were blown by the wind several hundred meters from the nearest source population [98]. Common dandelion creates a long-lived seedbank [11,99].  In a seedbank of a ponderosa pine community in Washington, viable common dandelion seedlings emerged from litter and soil samples in greenhouse germination trials. Seed density of spring samples was 160 seeds per square yard (133 seeds/m sq) and of autumn samples was 60 seeds per square yard (50 seeds/m sq) [99].  Seeds of common dandelion were viable up to 5 years in soil samples from Montana [11].  Seed germination on a control plot in Wisconsin was inhibited by thick mulch.  Light mulch that remained on a mowed plot also reduced germination [36].  Germination was highest on a burned plot [36]. Vegetative:  Common dandelion sprouts from the caudex after disturbance [114,126]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Common dandelion tolerates a wide range of site and soil conditions, but it most commonly occurs in disturbed areas such as cut-over or burned forests, avalanche areas, overgrazed ranges, and marshy floodplains [54,133].  It also occurs sites on highway and railroad rights-of-way, waste places, old fields, pastures, and lawns [114,126]. Common dandelion occurs on soils that vary from thin layers above permafrost in the subarctic to deep loams in the western United States [37,114].  Soil texture ranges from clays and clayey loams to sandy loams.  Common dandelion does poorly on dense clay soils, saline soils, and acidic soils [37]. Common dandelion occurs on flat to rolling topography or moderate to steep slopes [27,37].  It is found from sea level to high alpine elevations [126].  Regional elevational distributions are as follows [27,37,99]:                                  feet                 meters Utah                         4,100-11,300           1,250-3,445 Colorado                     4,500-13,500           1,372-4,115 Wyoming                      4,100- 9,600           1,250-2,926 Montana                      2,900- 9,200             884-2,804 Washington                   2,574- 2,722             780-825 Oregon                       7,095- 7,920           2,150-2,400 Alberta                      4,323- 6,336           1,310-1,920 Common shrubs, grasses, and forbs associated with common dandelion include common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), Wood's rose (Rosa woodsii), russet buffalo berry (Shepherdia canadensis), blueberry (Vaccinium spp.), chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), black sagebrush (Artemisia arbuscula nova), Wyoming big sagebrush (A. tridentata ssp. wyomingensis), Oregon-grape (Mahonia repens), rough fescue (Festuca scabrella), Idaho fescue (F. idahoensis), slender wheatgrass (Elymus trachycaulus), prairie Junegrass (Koeleria cristata), timber danthonia (Danthonia intermedia), Richardson's needlegrass (Stipa richardsonii), timothy (Phleum pratense), tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia caespitosa), Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), aster (Aster spp.), willowweed (Epilobium spp.), prairiesmoke avens (Geum triflorum), small-leaf angelica (Angelica pinnata), Colorado columbine (Aquilegia caerula), rhexia-leaved paintbrush (Castilleja leonardii), Oregon fleabane (Erigeron speciousus), wallflower (Erysimum elatum), one-flower helianthella (Helianthella uniflora), Utah peavine (Lathyrus utahensis), and Richardson geranium (Geranium richardsonii) [32,83,117,124,129].   SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Common dandelion is an important colonizer following vegetation disturbances in temperate climates throughout North America [85,99].  Although the role of common dandelion as an early seral species does not change, the length of time common dandelion populations are present varies among ecosystems. Common dandelion enters a disturbed community and rapidly becomes abundant.  It may achieve a peak in dominance within 2 to 3 years [7,14].  Holland found common dandelion to be a transitory colonist of marsh habitats in Massachusetts; it was found for 10 years after the disturbance and then disappeared [53]. Common dandelion was one of the earliest colonizers after tree harvesting in a maple-beech-birch ecosystem in Michigan [32].  On an abandoned farmland in Arizona, common dandelion was one of the predominant species following winter precipitation [30].  Common dandelion was a pioneer species on a brine-killed forest site after elimination of brine discharge on the site in the spring of 1982 [7].  On a Douglas-fir clearcut in Colorado, common dandelion was a dominant species in the understory the second year after cutting but was not present in the initial community [7].  Common dandelion is not a member of the climax plant community on rangelands since it cannot withstand competition for moisture, nutrients, and light with the climax vegetation.  It invades these areas after the preferred species have been removed by overgrazing [85]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Common dandelion is one of the earliest spring bloomers on western rangelands [134].  It flowers from March to late fall in most states and will flower throughout the year in warmer areas [126].  General first flowering dates are from April 28 to May 19, and sometimes earlier in some locations [116].  By mid-June, common dandelion has reached its maximum bloom stage, and the seeds from earlier flowering dates are mostly disseminated.  By mid-July, all seeds are disseminated [40]. Reported dates for anthesis in some states are as follows [16,37,100]: Utah                             April-July Colorado                         April-August Wyoming                          May-August Montana                          April-September North Dakota                     April-June Virginia                         February-June Georgia                          February-June Mississippi                      February-June Tennessee                        February-June Kentucky                         February-June Iowa                             April-June Alberta                          June-July


SPECIES: Taraxacum officinale
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Common dandelion is a component of diverse ecosystems in boreal and temperate regions with variable fire regimes.  Common dandelion is primarily adapted to fire through its prolific production of wind-dispersed seed [123].  Site colonization after fires occurs in many forested areas because of common dandelion's persistent, viable seed bank [1].   POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)    Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)    Caudex, growing points in soil


SPECIES: Taraxacum officinale
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire likely top-kills common dandelion. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Common dandelion generally establishes during the first or second postfire year.  It usually increases in frequency after fire [22,36,41].  One year after a spring burn (May 24, 1983) in Galena Gulch, Montana, common dandelion showed a 50 percent increase in frequency, but by the second year showed only a 47.5 percent increase over the prefire level [22]. Common dandelion increased in frequency following a fire in 1974 in a Scotch pine forest in Scotland, but by postfire year 4, frequency started to decrease.  Maximum frequency occurred at 3 years after fire [119]. Common dandelion frequency was greater in burned than in unburned oak communities in Utah [74].  Following a prescribed fire in a Douglas-fir stand in south-central Idaho, common dandelion frequency increased significantly by postfire year 2.  Prefire frequency was 8 percent; at postfire year 1 frequency was 4 percent; and at postfire year 2 frequency was 24 percent [78]. In the Hedges Mountain area of the Helena National Forest, Montana, a sagebrush/rough fescue habitat type was burned in spring (May) and fall (September).  Prefire and postfire community types, as named by the dominant species, were compared.  Following the spring burn, bluegrass and common dandelion were the dominant species during both postfire years 1 and 2.  Following the fall burn, the dominant species during postfire year 1 were bluegrass, mountain brome (Bromus marginatus), and common dandelion.  By postfire year 2, common dandelion was no longer a dominant; the site was dominated by bluegrass, Wood's rose, and common snowberry [109]. A fire on June 28, 1977 in Montana in a rough fescue community minimally disrupted reproduction and carbohydrate production of common dandelion.  Its frequency increased slightly on burned sites by the summer of 1978 [6]. In the timbered breaks along the Missouri River in central Montana, common dandelion was favored by big game animals every postfire year except year 28.  At postfire year 17 common dandelion was found at high frequencies. First peak in frequency occurred at postfire year 4 [41]. On ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir communities in the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon, common dandelion cover and frequency were higher on unburned control sites than on prescribed burned, thinned, or thinned-and-burned sites.  Common dandelion was determined to be an indicator species for unburned sites (P0.05).  For further information on the effects of thinning and burning treatments on common dandelion and 48 other species, see the Research Project Summary of Youngblood and others' [141] study. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : Lyon's Research Paper, Hamilton's Research Papers (Hamilton 2006a, Hamilton 2006b), and the following Research Project Summaries also provide information on prescribed fire use and postfire response of many plant species including common dandelion: FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Late spring burning in the tallgrass prairies of Kansas reduced common dandelion cover compared with burning at earlier dates.  In shortgrass prairies of western Kansas, common dandelion was less affected by dormant season (fall and winter) burns than by spring burns [20].  Burning to decrease cover of common dandelion on rangelands should be done in the spring after growth initiation.  Annual burning in March or November in Nebraska resulted in the highest total cover of common dandelion.  Burning in April decreased cover [46]. Following logging, bulldozing, and slash burning, common dandelion will establish in the open spots [14]. Common dandelion competes with tree seedlings on burned sites.  Grasses aerially seeded on burns may compete with and displace common dandelion.  After 4 to 5 years of grass seeding on sites in Montana common dandelion populations eventually decreased [14].


SPECIES: Taraxacum officinale
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