Prairie Dandelion cutout

Prairie Dandelion        Nothocalais cuspidata

Along a rocky road in the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Osage County, Oklahoma       •      May 29, 2013
Photograph by Beau Bosko


By Ebenezer Bowles

Posted on June 4, 2013, from Fayetteville, Arkansas


Close cousin to the citified common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) of lawns and wilding vacant lots, the Prairie Dandelion is not so common because of conditions peculiar to its native ecosystem.  An "uncommon" species in the jargon of ecology and botany is one whose numbers are limited by range, habitat, or other growing conditions.  The uncommon Prairie Dandelion hankers after rocky, gravelly, or sandy soil in prairie pastures, slopes, and hillsides.  It particularly likes the grasslands and tallgrass prairies of the American Midwest, an ecosystem under extreme duress from mega-corporate farming operations.  In Illinois, where native prairie land is decimated, the Nothocalais cuspidata is listed as endangered.

A member of the Aster family of flora, the perennial Prairie Dandelion is right at home in the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, where the native ecosystem is protected by the stewardship of the Nature Conservancy.  There it thrives as a native wildflower of uncommon beauty.

Actual size of the specimen pictured here:  appx. 7 cm in diameter.  At bottom, the soft focus on the tips of some of the petals isn't the result of shallow depth of field in the camera lens, but rather the result of stiff prairie winds combined with slow shutter speed  (F/10 @ 1/30s). You can see the ghostly motion of a few petals in the upper half of the photograph.  The top image is the same dandelion shown from another perspective.  Raindrops from a light afternoon shower linger on a few of the petals.

Prairie Dandelion

Uncommon Dandy was posted on Tuesday, June 4, 2013


fly there now

fly crow fly The Biota of North America Program's North American Plant Atlas
Phytogeographic and botanical databases grafted onto a plant atlas to produce county-level genus and species maps?  We're entering the rarefied intellectual air of floristic synthesis.  Take a peek to see if the Nothocalais cuspidata occurs in your county in the USA.

fly crow fly False Dandelion / Wavyleaf Dandelion at Wildflowers West
Though cluttered with a touch of commercialism, the Wildflowers West web displays a set of photographs illustrating several aspects of the lifecycle of the Nothocalais cuspidata.  The seedhead images are especially nice.

fly crow fly The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve web
The largest protected remnant of tallgrass prairie left on earth....

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