Wednesday, May 20, 2009

False Dandelion (or Cats-ear)

False Dandelion

Hypochaeris radicata

I had assumed that this plant was a close relative of the common yard dandelion. (Infact, I have always called them "mega-dandies", however, If I'm right on the ID, these are considered a more distant cousin and a member of a different genus. Unlike our dainty lawn dandies, these things range from 1 to 2 feet high. And where common yard dandies showcase one flower head per stem, False dandies may support several yellow heads on a branching stem. Like regular dandelions, False dandies rise out of of base pad (rosette) but rather than one or a few, False-Dandies launch whole stem thickets. In keeping, the stems are tough and fiberous (not hollow), and -- as anchored, most difficult to pull from the ground. Some False-dandies rise elegant, and can -- as a cluster, resemble the shape of a coke glass or vase. Others, like the one featured on top, look more like a Medusa head.

Like common dandelions, False Dandies follow a pattern which at first surprised me. The yellow flower head (comprised of many smaller florets) folds in on itself before reopening into the seed ball head. The second-to-last picture features a plant with yellow flower-head folded in waiting to unfold again as the seed ball.

Final note: the seed balls of False Dandies are frumpy, not nearly as elegant as real dandelions.

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