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Native Wildflowers of the North Dakota Grasslands

JPG -- species photo

False Dandelion (Agoseris glauca)

Found in nearly every county in North Dakota, false dandelion ranges from western Ontario to British Columbia south to New Mexico and California at elevations up to 10,000 ft.

False dandelion is a nearly hairless, taprooted perennial with milky juice (latex). In areas with long growing seasons, plants may be 30 inches tall, but North Dakota specimens are usually about 12-18 inches tall. Leaves are all basal and range in length from one-fourth to nearly as long as the flowering stalk. Leaves are rather waxy, bluish-green to dark green, and up to an inch wide, with smooth or irregularly-toothed margins. The yellow flower heads are one-to-two inches wide and solitary atop the long stalk (scape). The beaked achenes (seeds) have white bristles about one half inch long.

Look for false dandelion in June or July in moist prairies around wetland edges and coulee bottoms. Plants seem to be more abundant where grazing is light or moderate. This may be due to the moister soil conditions found there, rather than a sign that livestock eat the plant. Amerindians used the leaves of some of the western Agoseris' for food; the latex of some of the other species was used for chewing. I found no mention of any such uses for A. glauca.

False dandelion is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae). Aster means "star" in Greek, in reference to the radiate arrangement of the flowers in the heads. The family contains over 15,000 species and is one of the largest plant families in the world and the largest in North Dakota. The family contains many useful plants. The generic name Agoseris was derived from the Greek aix, "goat", and seris, "chicory." Glauca means "blue-green" in botanical Latin. The eminent German botanist Frederick Pursh first described the species for science in 1847. Pursh was the first to publish on plants retrieved from the western wilderness by Lewis and Clark.

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