Nothocalais cuspidata (Prairie False Dandelion)
|Also known as:||Sharp-point Prairie Dandelion, Wavy-leaf Agoseris|
|Habitat:||sun; dry open prairie, gravelly slopes|
|Bloom season:||April - June|
|Plant height:||2 to 12 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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A single yellow dandelion-like flower, 1 to 2 inches across, at the tip of a stout, leafless stem. Bracts are overlapping but in a single layer, up to 1 inch long, lance-linear with a sharply pointed tip, hairless, sometimes spotted or striped with red.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves form a loose to crowded rosette around the base of the flower stalks. Blades are long and narrow, 1/8 to ¾ inch wide, 2¾ to 11½ inches long with a pointed tip, scattered woolly hairs on the upper surface especially along the broad central vein, crisp wavy edges with short, dense, soft hairs, and often folded or curled up some lengthwise. Flowering stems typically have fine vertical lines or striations, as well as woolly hairs especially just under the flower head.
Fruit is a dry seed, ¼ to 1/3 inch long, with a tuft of bristly white hairs to carry it off in the wind.
To an under observant hiker, Nothocalais cuspidata could easily pass as just another common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) at a glance, rare prairie habitat notwithstanding. But the long, narrow, almost grass-like leaves of the false dandelion easily distinguishes it. But there is another native "false dandelion" - Agoseris glauca - that also looks very similar and in fact some earlier botany references have N. cuspidata listed as Agoseris cuspidata. It, too, has long, narrow leaves but they are more limber and glossy smooth. Also it requires rich, moist to almost wet meadow, whereas N. cuspidata will only be found on dry, hilly prairie.
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- Prairie False Dandelion plant
- Prairie False Dandelion habitat
- bracts and flower stems
- close-up of leaves
- flowers with a visitor
Photos by K. Chayka taken at Whitewater Wildlife Management Area, Winona County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Seven Sisters Prairie in Douglas County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?
on: 2016-04-24 20:45:15
Pretty cool especially the leaves. Had not seen this before.
on: 2019-05-24 11:06:55
Now blooming on a tiny bluff top sand/gravel prairie. Sure, it might resemble a common dandelion in passing but its much more beautiful with its cool foliage.
on: 2019-11-20 17:15:18
I understand that this species, unlike agroseris glauca, lacks beaks on its achenes. Have you found this to be reliable?
on: 2019-11-20 22:58:30
Charles, we haven't studied the achenes so don't know.
on: 2021-05-11 12:11:34
Many blooming on our sandy, dry hills in remnant pasture.
on: 2021-08-09 21:27:54
I found about a dozen plants of this species fairly close together on a gravelly bluff at Ottawa Bluffs Preserve (The Nature Conservancy) on May 11, 2021. They were past prime bloom but readily identifiable. I've also seen them on the small bluff prairie in Sibley County that Jason describes above. That was the first place that I had ever seen this species.