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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
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Tuesday - December 16, 2008

From: Salt Lake City, UT
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identity of dandelion-like weed in Utah
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What is the over-sized dandelion looking weed in utah that you can blow the seeds just like a dandelion?

ANSWER:

There are several species of native flowers with the common name of dandelions that occur in Utah:

Taraxacum lyratum (harp dandelion)

Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion)

Glyptopleura setulosa (holy dandelion)

Malacothrix glabrata (smooth desertdandelion)

Malacothrix sonchoides (sowthistle desertdandelion)

Malacothrix stebbinsii (Stebbins' desertdandelion) and photos

Malacothrix torreyii (Torrey's desertdandelion) and photos

Nothocalais troximoides (sagebrush false dandelion)

There is also one non-native species with the common name of dandelion found in Utah:

Taraxacum laevigatum (rock dandelion)

There are also non-native species that aren't called "dandelions" that are found in Utah and resemble your description:

Tragopogon dubius (yellow salsify)

Tragopogon lamottei (Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon)

There are also more than a few species of yellow dandelion-like flowers that have seedheads resembling dandelion puffs (e.g., Agoseris glauca (pale agoseris), Agoseris heterophylla (annual agoseris), and Arnica chamissonis ssp. foliosa (Chamisso arnica)).

You can see other similar native yellow dandelion-like flowers in the Family Asteraceae (Aster Family) by going to our Native Plant Database and selecting "Asteraceae (Aster Family)" from the "Family" list.  Then, when you have brought up the list of more than 1000 speciesin that family, use the "Narrow Your Search" option and choose 'Utah' from the "Select State or Province" option, 'Herb' from the "Habit (general appearance)" option and 'yellow' under the "Bloom characteristics: Color" option.

This is about the best we can do for you without a photo to help us identify your plant.  If you do have photos, please send them to us and we'll do our best to identify your dandelion.  Photos of the flower, the seed head and the foliage are all important for identifying a plant.  Visit our Ask Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page for instructions on submitting photos.


Taraxacum lyratum

Taraxacum officinale

Glyptopleura setulosa

Malacothrix glabrata

Malacothrix sonchoides

Agoseris glauca

Agoseris heterophylla

Arnica chamissonis ssp. foliosa

 

 

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