Nothocalais cuspidata (Prairie False Dandelion)

Plant Info
Also known as: Sharp-point Prairie Dandelion, Wavy-leaf Agoseris
Genus:Nothocalais
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
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):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 7+petals

[photo of flower] 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: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] 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: Fruit type: seed with plume

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.

Notes:

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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More photos

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.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Deborah - Eden Prairie bluff prairie
on: 2016-04-24 20:45:15

Pretty cool especially the leaves. Had not seen this before.

Posted by: Jason - Sibley County
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 it’s cool foliage.

Posted by: Charles Argue
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?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2019-11-20 22:58:30

Charles, we haven't studied the achenes so don't know.

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