False Dandelions: Free Food Source?

False Dandelions pop up quickly after Spring rains!
False Dandelions pop up quickly after Spring rains! | Source

Catsear False Dandelion

Will the real Dandelion please stand up?

I have been betrayed by the weeds on my lawn. They are impostors. Catsear, one of several False Dandelions, impersonate Dandelions so well that everyone I know calls them Dandelions and seem to "have never heard of Catsear."

I found out about Catsear, and other False Dandelions when hundreds of them sprang up on lawns, fields and road sides after recent Spring rainy days. I thought they looked rather pretty, even though my lawn was in bad need of a good mow. And didn't I hear somewhere that dandelions were very nutritious and have some healing benefits? Knowing they would only last as long as the mower blades were silent I decided to investigate. That's when I learned about Catsear and false dandelions.

Question: Can Catsear and other false dandelions be consumed for the same health benefits as dandelions?

Learn About Ox Eye Daisy Wild Flowers

The ox eye daisy is another edible weed. Many consider it to be a wildflower to use in pretty floral arrangements. They are often used in DIY wedding floral arrangements.

Dandelions benefit both the garden and the body.
Dandelions benefit both the garden and the body. | Source

Benefits Of Dandelions

Not only do dandelions have nutritional and medicinal qualities they also make good garden companions The longish taproot brings up nutrients for shallower rooted plants. Dandelions add nitrogen to the soil and attract pollinating insects to the garden.

Dandelion leaves are loaded with vitamins A, K and C, calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium. They have long been used as a folk remedy for liver and kidney problems and high blood pressure. Dandelions are a natural diuretic and are safer than other diuretics because they add potassium back that we lose through water elimination.

Catsears have longer stems and hairier leaves than Dandelions.
Catsears have longer stems and hairier leaves than Dandelions. | Source


Catsear are perennials and will shoot up and bloom every Spring and Summer. They are native to Europe and are introduced, or invasive In the United States. Catsear is found from the southeast north to New Jersey and westward to Mississippi. As with dandelions and other false dandelions the seeds of Catsear are dispersed on a breeze and can travel far.

Those who wish to eliminate Catsear from the lawn can do so by using lime and nitrogen fertilizers for healthier grass. Healthier grass will discourage the growth of Catsear. There are also herbicides available that will eradicate them.

False Dandelion Types

Common Name
Scientific Name
Hypocaeris Radicata
Tall stems, basal rosette, hairy leaves
Southeastern United States, west to Mississippi, North to New Jersey
Texas Dandelion
Pyrrhopappus Caroliniaus
Deeply lobed and hairy leaves, distinguish from Catsear by purple middle
Eastern United States
Smooth Catsear
Hypocaeris Glabra
Smooth leaves, less bitter
Souteastern & Northeastern U.S. Western U.S, parts of Canada
Mountain Dandelion
Agoseris Glauca
waxy leaves, basal but not rosette
Western United States & Canada
Hawksbeard, Elegant & Narrowleaf
Crepis, Crepis Tectorum
Has both basal rosette and hairy leaves on stem, annual, not perenniel
Northern Hemispjhere, Tropical Africa, invasive in Northeastern U.S. & Canada
Autumn Hawkbit, Fall Dandelion
Leontondon Autumnalis
Resembles Catsear, flowers reddish underneath, appear June-October
Parts of Europe, Great Britian, Ireland

Ways To Eat Dandelions,False Dandelions

Add freshly washed leaves to garden salads

  • Make dandelion tea from the flowers
  • Make dandelion wine from the flowers
  • boil or saute leaves and eat like spinach
  • use the leaves in stir fries
  • Make into a batter with flour, onions, spices and a little milk to fry in a healthy oil

Are False Dandelions Edible?

To eat or not to eat.....that is the question. I am 99.9 percent sure that my "imposters" are Catsear. Although I found overwhelming support that Catsear is safe to eat I am not going to munch on my weeds. There is evidence that invasive weeds can mutate. In the state of Washington, False Dandelions are listed as noxious weeds. Best practices for weed eating is to consult an expert.

The possibility of insecticides or other chemicals in the soil is another reason to take care in eating weeds. Never eat weeds from an area that has been treated within in the past two years.

While I definitively would like the health benefits these weeds may offer, I am going to order Dandelion seeds, Taraxacum Officinale to plant in my garden. Then I know what I am eating is safe, and my garden will benefit as well.

How Much Did You Learn About False Dandelions?

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Comments 26 comments

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Love your video. Someday I am going to start doing this as it really adds interest to a hub topic (maybe I'll get a recorder for Mother's Day?). Anyways, I learned much from reading your hub. I buy salad with dandelion leaves in the mix. They are a healthy source of vitamins. Thanks for sharing.

Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Rebecca, interesting hub. I won't worry so much about my dandelion population. Don't worry be happy and maybe have a healthier lawn. We don't spray or treat our lawn with anything but love so ours should also be safe to eat!

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Thanks teaches 12345. I just used my little Kodak Easyshare.It is not an expensive camera.I will have to look with the salad mix with dandelion greesn.

Thanks for stopping by Teresa. I am glad you don't have to worry about eating anything from your lawn or garden!

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 4 years ago from Texas

Excellent information, well presented! Voted up, shared and interesting! :)

b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 4 years ago

I really got Educated on the differences of Dandelions Vs. Catsear. So much I didn't know. Very Interesting Hub, For some reason I could see the Video. But I still Enjoyed your Hub.

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida

When I was in my late teens I visited my sister in Pennsylvania. We had dandelion greens with bacon dressing. They really were quite tasty. Of course, now, as I look at the 'dandelions' in my yard I wonder if they are impostors..I must check ...thanks for sharing this...

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Hi pstraubie. Yep, check those dandelions out. I'll bet those dandelion greens with bacon dressing were good! You should post that recipe!

tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

A very interesting hub, I knew dandelions help to attract bees, but was not aware of the health benefits. I'll try giving them a second chance from now on

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Glad to hear that tobusiness. I am going to order some of the Dandelion capsules.Thanks for the comment!

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

Wow I didn't know this, I thought the ones that looked hairy or with taller stems were just more mature ones. Thanks for the info. I use to feed my rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, just about everything dandelion and they all loved them I do know that.

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

LOL, Jackie. So did I and then I started investigating and found those little impostors out! But like a tall lady they show a lot of beauty in the fields and along the road sides. I just don't know about how safe it is to eat them. Maybe someone will enlighten me!

alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

I don't know that I've ever seen this flower here in Southern California, though your table identifies its relatives as growing here. But then again, I don't know that it would look that different than a regular dandelion to me. Excellent video. Voting this Up and Useful.

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Thanks! I have been as far west as Lake Tahoe, but I wasn't looking for Dandelions! But I am sure they are around.Thanks for the vote up!

moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

My yard is so full of dandelions this year I can't believe it even the woods are full of them. I'm going to check tomorrow and make sure I'm looking at dandelions and not catsear. Enjoyed your hub and lots of good information.

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

I am glad I planted that seed in your mind moonlake. Go check out those Dandelions. Thanks for stopping to read!

Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

Very informative hub! Some of the Chefs here in Germany are cooking with Dandelions and I´m sure they know the edible ones. Your video is very well done. Thanks for sharing.

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Thanks for the information on cooking with Dandelions in Germany. I'll bet your chefs are fantastic. I would love to come and try some dishes there. And thanks for the compliment on that silly video.

aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Very nicely done. I believe that I have seen this catsear or some other sort of variety. There should be some here in OK.

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Thanks! I am sure you do!

rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Rebecca, this is a useful caution. It is necessary to identify the real dandelions to stay safe and get the full health benefits.

Voted up and useful.

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Thanks rajan! It was so good to get my dandy seeds!

Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Hi Rebecca, I think we have both dandelions and cats ears in our lawn. I too thought they were just the same plant at different stages. I knew dandelions were nutritious and have tried dandelion tea, but will try boiling the leaves. Interesting hub.

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Great! Enjoy your dandelion tea.

Diwani 22 months ago

I have 7 dandelion plants here in tropical Philippines.the seeds came from Osaka,Japan.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 months ago from Houston, Texas

We used to have lots of dandelions when we lived in Wisconsin and I did harvest them and had them in salads. Our Houston lawn only occasionally has a dandelion pop up. I learned much from reading this. Will happily share on HP and give it a tweet.

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Thanks, Peggy!

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