Not a dandelion, then what?
June 21, 2008 3:49 AM   Subscribe

What's this plant...? Thought as first it was a dandelion, now I'm sure it isn't.

Was photographed in the UK a couple of weeks ago. Saw it beside a path near farmland among other weeds and grasses. Seed head about the size of a large dandelion's. I've tried tracking it down online but my google-fu is weak.
posted by fearfulsymmetry to Science & Nature (11 answers total)
Why are you sure it isn't? It's hard to tell with just that photo, but it looks like one to me.
posted by borkingchikapa at 4:09 AM on June 21, 2008

A Google search for "dandelion-like seedhead" lead to coltsfoot as possibility (link to a photographer portfolio, with handy dandelion photo on the same page for comparison).
posted by annathea at 4:22 AM on June 21, 2008

It could be a salsify seed head. It's sometimes easier to ID plants if you include the leaf.
posted by KTrujillo at 5:03 AM on June 21, 2008

My husband votes Tragapogon seed head.
posted by KTrujillo at 5:10 AM on June 21, 2008

Definitely a member of Asteraceae, but Im not sure how to identify it based on location and seed head. This page is deliciously web 1.0, but may have images that could help your search. Looks like the head is composed entirely of ray flowers which would be consistent with a type of dandelion.
posted by Orrorin at 5:50 AM on June 21, 2008

Yup, could be any of the salsify family, but a flower pic isn't enough to identify with. (BTW, salsify = goatsbeard = Tragopogon.)

Not coltsfoot - their flowers are arranged in a disk, not a sphere pattern. That's not obvious in the pic annathea provided, but it's real obvious in 3D / real life.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:42 AM on June 21, 2008

BTW, salsify = goatsbeard = Tragopogon.

Thank you. Must be a regional difference.
posted by KTrujillo at 7:45 AM on June 21, 2008

That looks a lot like a dandelion head that's been caught in the rain. All the tiny filaments join together when they get wet.
posted by Solomon at 8:08 AM on June 21, 2008

Yeah, looks like it actually is a dandelion, what confused me was it wasn't as fluffy as normal but I've since seen, after posting the question (as is always the way), another photograph that is almost the same.

Thanks for all your help anyway.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:57 AM on June 21, 2008

I think it's one of the milkweeds (Asclepias). It's a big plant family.

Did the unopened flowers have a long pointy head?

For example: this member of the family is "goatsbeard". (
posted by reflecked at 10:38 AM on June 21, 2008

shoot :)
posted by reflecked at 10:38 AM on June 21, 2008

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