Hypochaeris radicata | False Dandelion ‘Dim Sun’
We have thousands of dandelions (and look-alikes) on our property and we spotted this False Dandelion one day while walking our land. As far as we can tell it’s a new, distinct color from the typical bright yellow flowers that grow in abundance. We collected seeds and grew some out… 1 out of 4 seeds grew to be the pale yellow form. We culled the regular bright yellow ones and collected seeds only from the pale yellow one.
False Dandelion is also commonly known as Hairy Cats-ear or Flatweed, and this particular one is the flattened-rosette type of Cats-ear (rather than the upright one) with single flower heads on unbranched, hairy stalks. It’s a low-lying edible perennial herb. Its called False Dandelion as it’s commonly mistaken for true dandelions because of all the similarities they share. Both plants have similar flowers which form windborne seeds. However, False Dandelions are often forked/branched with solid stems, whereas Common (true) Dandelions possess unforked stems that are hollow. Both plants form a rosette of leaves and a central taproot, and the leaves of Dandelions are jagged in appearance, whereas those of False Dandelion are more lobe-shaped and hairy. Both plants are used for similar reasons, and are equally invasive. We can still only speculate if it is invasive like the more common forms, but list it as ‘having the potential for invasiveness’.
Much like Common Dandelion, all parts of the False Dandelion plant are edible. The leaves and roots are less bitter than dandelions, but can be enjoyed in the same manner as dandelions by mixing in a fresh salad, steaming, sautéing or boiling. It is best eaten before the flowers appear because as they mature they may become tough and fibrous. Most of the plant’s bitterness can be removed by cooking. The roots are generally smaller than in dandelions, but if you find larger ones they can be steamed and eaten. Flowers can be used in salads and sandwiches or thrown into stews, soups or egg dishes. Stems are tasty sautéed, like asparagus, or can be roasted and ground to form a coffee substitute. Flowers are high in lutein and total carotenoids, and the leaf extract has high levels of antioxidants.
False Dandelion is a source of nectar for bees and is recommended for those who are trying to create a bee-friendly patch in their garden.
Sun exposure: Full sun
Mature height: 6-10 inches
Mature width: 6-8 inches
Hardiness zones: 3-10