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Do You Know Your Dandelions?

Posted in Garden Advice on May 17, 2018

Dandelion Weed 

The poor old dandelion; it is most often chosen as the archetypal weed. Advertisers of weed killers show it dying in paths and lawns. It seems it is the most recognisable weed, with its rosette of green leaves and the stalk leading to the attractive yellow sunburst flower head or ball of fluffy seeds.

The dandelion draws its name from the French ‘dent de lion’ meaning teeth of a lion referring to the serrated leaves. Its Latin name is Taraxacum officinale which is derived from the Arabic tarakhshaquin meaning bitter herb, the leaves can be eaten but if you are thinking of trying it in your salad take care that it has not just been sprayed with herbicide.

We all think we know the dandelion but there are many similar plants that are easily mistaken for dandelions. Many have a similar flat rosette shape and yellow sunburst flowers on stalks emerging from the centre of the rosette. Here are some similar weeds with their distinguishing features:

Name and What to Look For


Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale

‘Teeth’ on edge of leaves point back towards base. White sap.

Dandelion square 

Cape WeedArctotheca calendula

Woolly undersides of leaves and angular lobes.

Cape weed square 

HawksbeardCrepis capillaris

Multiple stems and flower heads.

Hawksbeard square 

OxtongueHelminthotheca echiodes

Leaves wavy but not lobbed.

Oxtongue square 

CatsearHypochaeris radicata

Thick, hairy, dull green, lance-shaped leaves with rounded lobes.

 Catsear square

HawkbitLeontodon taraxacoides

Leaves shallowly lobed. Fine hairs on leaves forked.

 Hawkbit square2

Sow ThistleSonchus oleraceus

Leaves soft, hairless, divided nearly to mid-rib.

 Sow Thistle square

Wall RocketDiplotaxis muralis

Leaves slightly blue-green with a long stalk.

Wall rocket square 

If you need to get rid of these weeds then our recommendations are:

In Lawns

In Garden Beds

  • Spot treat with Weed Weapon Rapid Action orWeed Weapon Invade Gel. Weed Weapon is systemic and kills weeds down to the roots within 2-4 days and is an ideal product for use around established trees and shrubs. It is inactive in the soil so planting can be safely carried out soon after treatment.
  • For a fast-acting organic solution use Kiwicare Weed Weapon Natural Power.
  • For best results use in Spring and Autumn when weeds and turf are growing.

In Paths and Driveways

  • For long term control on paths and driveways use Weed Weapon Long Term. This will kill a wide range of weeds and prevent regrowth for up to 12 months.
  • For a fast-acting organic solution use Weed Weapon Natural Power.
  • For best results use in Spring and Autumn when weeds and turf are growing.

David Brittain

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