Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a perennial weed that belongs to the Asteraceae or sunflower family. This weed has European origins and grows well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9 and in all types of soil, doing best in full sun. Alternate names include fairy clock, Irish daisy, monk's head, puffball and swine's snout. Dandelions continually bloom and reseed themselves, making this weed difficult to remove from lawns.
As soon as temperatures warm in the spring to at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit, dandelions buds start to appear in lawns. The taproot of a dandelion is usually about 6 to 18 inches underground, and the buds sprout from the upper part of the root. Serrated leaves sprout from the ground; they can be up to 14 inches long and 3 inches wide in a circular pattern extending from the root. Seeds germinate throughout the growing season and the plant remains in the seedling stage for approximately eight to 15 weeks.
Dandelion flowers are bright yellow and sit on top of a 6- to 24-inch stalk. The elongated petals radiate outward from the center button. Flowers appear soon after the seedling stage when leaves develop. The blossoms and seed heads persist throughout the life of the plant and dandelion plants can live for several years.
The dried flower heads that have gone to seed look like puffballs made of small 1/8-inch seeds. The ends of each seed have a parachute-type structure on the tip, allowing the wind to blow them around for many miles for seed dispersal. The seeds land and begin a new germination cycle in warm, moist soil.