A field full of yellow dandelion flowers on green grass
Taraxacum officinale


Family: Asteraceae
Other common names: perdeblom (Albanian), طرخشقون مخزني (Arabic), 西洋蒲公英 (Chinese), maslačak (Croatian), pampeliška lékařská (Czech), paardenbloem (Dutch), pissenlit officinal (French), butterblume (German), Πικραλίδα (Greek), שינן רפואי (Hebrew), gyermekláncfű (Hungarian), soffione (Italian), セイヨウタンポポ (Japanese), 서양민들레 (Korean), Ārstniecības pienene (Latvian), pissblumm (Luxembourgish), Эмийн Багваахай (Mongolian), løvetann (Norwegian), doodooshaaboojiibik (Ojibwe), mniszek pospolity (Polish), dente-de-leão (Portuguese), păpădie (Romanian), mаслачак (Serbian), navadni regrat (Slovenian), diente de león (Spanish), karahindiba (Turkish), kульбаба лікарська (Ukrainian)
IUCN Red List status: Least Concern

It’s easy to dismiss dandelions as ‘just weeds’ since they have a habit of growing where we don’t want them.

But the common dandelion has actually been used as a food source, a medicine and a companion plant in many gardens.

Transforming from bright yellow, multi-petalled blooms to spherical white clusters of parachute-bearing seeds, dandelions are equally at home in urban and rural environments.

Scientists are still divided on how best to categorise dandelions, as they can be broken down into microspecies based on their DNA.

The name ‘dandelion’ comes from the French dent de lion, which means lion’s tooth, referring to the jagged edges of its leaves.

The common dandelion grows between 5 to 50 cm tall, on long, hollow, green stems, which are either smooth or covered in short hairs. The leaves grow from the base of the stem, between 5 to 50cm long and 1 to 10 cm wide. They are an oblong shape with varying serrated edges.

The flowers, which grow at the very top of each stem, are comprised of many small florets, which are a bright yellow in colour. When pollinated, numerous seeds form at the top of the stem. These seeds are greyish brown, oblong, and have a silky pappi (structures shaped like a parachute to help with wind distribution). When together on the stem, pappi give the impression of a white orb.

Read the scientific profile for dandelion

Food and drink

Dandelion leaves are eaten as a green vegetable, similar to spinach, although notably more bitter.

Dandelion flowers are turned into a liquid and used to flavour drinks such as dandelion wine.

Dandelion roots can be roasted and ground as a coffee substitute.


Dandelion leaves are a rich source of vitamin A and K.

Dandelion functions as a diuretic, and has been used in traditional Chinese and Native American medicines for this effect.

  • Dandelions provide a food source for a number of insects, including bees and caterpillars, during early and late winter.

  • The genus name of dandelions, Taraxacum, comes from the Arabic word 'tarakhshagog', meaning ‘bitter herb’.

  • The species name officinale refers to the medicinal and culinary use of the plant, as an officina was a storeroom in a monastery where essentials were kept.

A map of the world showing where dandelions are native and introduced to
Native: Albania, Altay, Austria, Azores, Baleares, Baltic States, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Buryatiya, Canary Is., Central European Rus, Corse, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, East European Russia, Finland, France, Føroyar, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Irkutsk, Italy, Krasnoyarsk, Krym, Lebanon-Syria, Madeira, Morocco, Netherlands, North Caucasus, North European Russi, Northwest European R, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sicilia, South European Russi, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Transcaucasus, Turkey, Ukraine, West Siberia, Yugoslavia
Introduced: Alabama, Alaska, Alberta, Antipodean Is., Argentina Northeast, Argentina Northwest, Argentina South, Arizona, Arkansas, Assam, Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, British Columbia, California, Cameroon, Cape Provinces, Chatham Is., Chile Central, Chile South, China North-Central, China Southeast, Colombia, Colorado, Connecticut, Costa Rica, Cuba, Delaware, District of Columbia, Dominican Republic, East Himalaya, Ecuador, Falkland Is., Florida, Free State, Georgia, Greenland, Haiti, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, India, Indiana, Iowa, Jamaica, Japan, Jawa, Kansas, Kentucky, Kerguelen, Korea, KwaZulu-Natal, Labrador, Lesotho, Louisiana, Madagascar, Maine, Malaya, Manitoba, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mexico Northwest, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Namibia, Nebraska, Nepal, Nevada, New Brunswick, New Caledonia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New South Wales, New York, New Zealand North, New Zealand South, Newfoundland, Niue, Norfolk Is., North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Provinces, Northern Territory, Northwest Territorie, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ohio, Oklahoma, Ontario, Oregon, Paraguay, Pennsylvania, Peru, Philippines, Pitcairn Is., Prince Edward I., Queensland, Québec, Rhode I., Saskatchewan, South Australia, South Carolina, South Dakota, South Georgia, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tasmania, Tennessee, Texas, Tuamotu, Uruguay, Utah, Venezuela, Vermont, Victoria, Virginia, Washington, West Himalaya, West Virginia, Western Australia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Yukon, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

Grasslands, woodlands and any rich soils, in a range of cool climates.

Kew Gardens

A botanic garden in southwest London with the world’s most diverse living plant collection.


Lawns across Kew Gardens

View map of Kew Gardens
Best time to see
Flowers: Apr, May, Jun, Sep, Oct, Nov
Foliage: Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Sep, Oct, Nov
Seeds: Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov


Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex that has over 500 acres of plants from around the world and is home to the Millennium Seed Bank.


Lawns and grasslands across Wakehurst

View map of Wakehurst
Best time to see
Flowers: Apr, May, Jun, Sep, Oct, Nov
Foliage: Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov
Seeds: Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov

Other plants

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The geographical areas mentioned on this page follow the World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions (WGSRPD) developed by Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG).