Are these dandelions? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 15 Old 03-02-2013, 02:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It is beginning of spring here in Las Vegas, and my mom is having her yard worked on for the first time since..oh, in the back yard it has probably been a YEAR....no herbicides or anyting have been used. Her side  yard has rocks and i went over there and there are, what look like, dandelions. But they are growing like a JUNGLE. They are HUGE. they were all the way up to my knees. Most the plants had not flowered (we've only had a few warm days, but today it was 70 F!) but a few plants did have what looked VERY much like dandelion flowers. They are not thistles either, as they have no spines. I've included several photos. Can dandelion get THIS big?

 

 

 

 

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#2 of 15 Old 03-02-2013, 02:40 PM
 
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I am seeing two different species there.  The one that is blooming on the stalk is some kind of wild lettuce.  The one that has the leaves growing basally also looks like it might be something else.  The key on those bright green ones is to check for a taproot.  Dandelions are strongly taprooted, other related species have smaller, relatively insignificant taproots that make it easy to pull (as in your picture).  These tend to be annuals, dandelions are perennial.  Also, in bloom, all dandelion flowers have a hollow, succulent stems, each growing directly from the base of the plant.  Most other DYCs (Damned Yellow Composites) produce a flower stalk with multiple flowers, even if their leaves grow basally.

 

Anyone else reading this wondering if their weed is a dandelion, also remember this: dandelions do not have fuzzy leaves, ever, and all leaves grow directly from the base (basal).  Fuzzy leaves are often hawk weed or else "cat's ear."  Both those species have stems producing multiple flowers.

 

So, barring the fact that I am not there to see first hand, I am positive these are not dandelions.  They are annual and easy to pull unless the soil is dry and rock hard (welcome to Vegas!) and my chickens would go berserk for that patch!


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#3 of 15 Old 03-02-2013, 02:41 PM
 
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Looks like dandelions to me.

We once had a dandelion that was so huge, the top of the enormous flower was waist high. It was in the right place to get all the runoff from our neighbor's fertilizer.

Make sure you dig down below the surface and cut the tap root for each one, or they'll be back.
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#4 of 15 Old 03-02-2013, 02:44 PM
 
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Dandelions can get that big, indeed, but look at the taproot from the plants she has pulled.  They are not very substantial.


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#5 of 15 Old 03-02-2013, 02:47 PM
 
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I see what you mean about the tap root. I was going by the yellow flower. That looks like dandelion to me.
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#6 of 15 Old 03-02-2013, 02:54 PM
 
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Yes!  Looks just like it! The composite family is huge, one of the largest in the plant kingdom, and many, many species look just like that.  They can be tricky to ID at times, which leads to some folks referring to them as DYCs, a similar acronym to LBB (Little Brown Bird) and LBM (Little Brown Mushroom).  Look in the first picture, and you will see that the blooming flower is on a stalked plant, the one with the grayish leaves and purple veins.  The common name escapes me, I just remember it is a species of wild lettuce.

 

ETA:  Looked it up, and it is Sow Thistle.  I thought that at first--- but I always remember sow thistle as prickly, but there is a non-prickly one, too.  It's not really a thistle, but they belong in the same family as true thistles.  Anyway, that's the one blooming.


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#7 of 15 Old 03-02-2013, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks so much. Bummer that they're not dandelions :-/ Do you think they are still edible? Any way to tell what exactly it is? as for the tap root....it had one thick root as thick as the stem maybe a four inches long on some of them, but not nearly as big as i expected for plants that tall (though, they were harder to pull than some of the other plants growing alongside it)... that is so odd that another plant could have a flower that looks (and feels!) exactly like a dandelion! I do know what you mean though about multiple flowers on one stalk vs. the one single flower from the base like in dandelions...But the flower looks/feels just like dandelion. crazy. anyway thanks so much for the help!
 

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#8 of 15 Old 03-02-2013, 02:59 PM
 
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It's not clear to me where the flower stem is going, but I trust your assessment. And I learned something today! About dandelions and wild lettuce, but that counts!
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#9 of 15 Old 03-02-2013, 03:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by asherraifsmom View Post

thanks so much. Bummer that they're not dandelions :-/ Do you think they are still edible? Any way to tell what exactly it is? as for the tap root....it had one thick root as thick as the stem maybe a four inches long on some of them, but not nearly as big as i expected for plants that tall (though, they were harder to pull than some of the other plants growing alongside it)... that is so odd that another plant could have a flower that looks (and feels!) exactly like a dandelion! I do know what you mean though about multiple flowers on one stalk vs. the one single flower from the base like in dandelions...But the flower looks/feels just like dandelion. crazy. anyway thanks so much for the help!
 

It could very well be that some dandelions are mixed in there, but four inches and the thickness of a stem is not very big.  Dandelion taproots are large and relatively fat, more like finger width and if they are only four inches with that large of a top, it is because the taproot broke.  A typical dandelion that size would most likely have a taproot, of about 8 to 10 inches or more(very often more and you'd be lucky to get 8-10 inches of root dug up).  You need that one to be in bloom to make a positive ID.  Dandelions should already have bloomed, if that sow thistle is blooming, and could account for the plants being so large.

 

Did they bloom already?  I'm pretty sure dandelions are the only flower of that type that produce single flowers on stems growing basally.  All the other will produce a stem, or several, but each with multiple flowers.


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#10 of 15 Old 03-02-2013, 03:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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well i did some looking and the flowers are DEFINITELY sow thistle. but the flowers on THOSE plants look slightly different than the ones that are bushy in the middle, the ones i picked. I've looked at photos of other plants that supposedly look like dandelion and can't find any that look exactly like it. :-/
 

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#11 of 15 Old 03-02-2013, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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to clarify...i meant those with the flowers, the LEAVES look different than the plants in the middle that are fuller, have more leaves, etc. the plants in the middle/not up against the A/C have no flowers or buds.

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#12 of 15 Old 03-02-2013, 03:26 PM
 
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I looked at a close up of the picture, and the leaves are actually growing on a stem, not directly from the base, so those aren't dandelions either, for sure.

 

What are they?  Still looking.


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#13 of 15 Old 03-02-2013, 03:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Lactuca virosa?
 

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#14 of 15 Old 03-02-2013, 08:28 PM
 
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???

 

Is it entirely smooth, or does it have prickles on the central rib underneath the leaf?  I've never attempted to separately identify all those species of lettuce relatives.  You've now exceeded my knowledge here!  

 

Your best bet for ID is to let some bloom.  They are either annual or biennial (usually biennial, I guess, not annual like I said before) but these look like they will bloom in the near future.


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#15 of 15 Old 03-04-2013, 07:16 AM
 
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Most edible weeds are best eaten when young and tender, including dandelions. Once they're even normal big they're bitter and tough.

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