Texas Dandelion

Scientific Name(s): Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus
Abundance: common
What: root, young leaves
How: root as tea, coffee; leaves as bitter greens
Where: fields, disturbed areas, roadsides
When: spring
Nutritional Value: minerals, vitamins C & A
Dangers: don't mistake for Common Groundsel

Leaf Arrangement: The leaves of Texas dandelion form a basal rosette, which means they grow in a circular arrangement at the base of the plant, close to the ground.

Leaf Shape: The leaves are generally oblong or lanceolate, often with lobes that can be irregular/asymmetrical.

Venation: The venation is pinnate.

Leaf Margin: The margins of the leaves are usually toothed or slightly lobed, giving them a serrated appearance.

Leaf Color: The color of the leaves is typically a medium to dark green, sometimes with a hint of red or purple along the veins or edges.

Flower Structure: Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus produces flower heads at the ends of slender stalks. Each flower head is composed of many small yellow ray and disk florets, resembling a dandelion flower. 

Flower Color: The flowers are bright yellow with a ring of black stalks around the flower's core. Underside of flowers will have several light-tan rays.

Fruits: The fruit is a small, dry, one-seeded achene that is brownish and ridged, often with a tuft of fine hairs (pappus) at the top, aiding in wind dispersal.

Seeds: The seeds are small and oblong, with a pappus (feathery umbrella) that facilitates wind dispersal.

Stems: The flowering stems are erect, hollow, and branched, often reaching heights of 10 to 20 inches. They are typically green and may have fine hairs. Stems branch multiple times.

Hairs: The edges and undersides of leaves have fine hairs, as do the stems.

Height: The plant usually grows to a height of about 12 to 24 inch

Open flower and never-opened flower buds.
False Dandelion (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus)

Open flower and previously-opened flower.
False Dandelion (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus)

Close-up of flower. Note the dark stamens.
False Dandelion (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus)

False Dandelion

Back and front of flower, along with flower stem. Note the tan structures.
Cat's Ear

Base rosette and stem. Note the base leaves lack deep serrations.
False Dandelion (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus) – Version 2

Mature leaf.
False Dandelion

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.

As more and more people move into Texas from lesser desirable states the fields of our yellow Texas Dandelion leads to confusion in late spring and early summer. The flower looks like a true dandelion, except for the dabs of brown on the stamens. Closer observation shows multiple flowers and leaves growing off the thick, green stem that grows up to nearly three feet tall. The leaves lack the sharp spearpoint and backwards pointing pointy lobes. These signs should indicate you don't have a true dandelion. But that's okay! You can use the Texas Dandelion the same as true dandelions.

The flowers of Texas Dandelion make an okay tea, perhaps not quite as rich in flavor as true dandelions. Remember to remove the green "collar" from the flower just as you must with true dandelions. You can also make jelly from these flowers which actually tastes pretty dang good.

The leaves of Texas Dandelion are used in the same manner as true dandelion leaves but unfortunately they aren't quite as nutritious. Texas Dandelion roots can be dried for tea or roasted for a coffee-substitute. The bitter flavor of the roots are becoming popular with high-end bartenders making their own concoctions where these roots replace traditional bitters.

Edible Dandelion Mimics:
Cat's Ear
Japanese Hawkweed
Sow Thistle
Texas Dandelion
Wild Lettuce

Buy my book! Outdoor Adventure Guides Foraging covers 70 of North America's tastiest and easy to find wild edibles shown with the same big pictures as here on the Foraging Texas website.

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