FLORA OF ICELAND elements: Taraxacum spp., dandelion

Taraxacum spp.; The dandelion is both a common as well a special species. On Iceland too, it is common in many different ecosystems ranging from urban waste area's to highland mountain regions. Botanists are often interested in rare species. Dandelions therefore usually get little attention as it is so common. But isn't it a marvel to find a species both in backyard gardens or as a street weed in Reykjavik and also on the deserts like the Sprengisandur (and all intermediate habitats like meadows)? Dandelions reproduce asexually, meaning the seed are formed from asexual cells. They are full-clones of the parent plant. It means that the species definition is complicated. One can also explain the wide range of ecosystems where these plants can be found due to strong (genetic) adaptation, specialized to the specific ecosystem. Specialists chop the dandelions into a myriad of (micro-)species which only the specialist understands. Even botanical ecologists don't bother to identify the specific species in their research and call them simply Taraxacum spp. meaning a dandelion species. The English name dandelion originates from the French expression "Dents de Lion" meaning the Tooth of a Lion. Another group of daisies that show a superficial resemblance belong to the genus Leontodon (hawkbits). Of coarse this Latin name also translates into "Tooth of a Lion". They are however, less related to the dandelion than the superficial resemblance suggests. L. autumnalis, autumn hawkbit, as well as closely related Hieracium species (hawkweeds) can also be found on Iceland.
It is a member of the Asteraceae family (= Compositae ), the daisy family. The Icelandic name of this species is Túnfífill.

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A brief introduction to Iceland plants
Text & Photographs by Dick Vuijk - unless stated otherwise

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