Nothocalais cuspidata (Prairie False Dandelion)

Plant Info
Also known as: Sharp-point Prairie Dandelion, Wavy-leaf Agoseris
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; dry open prairie, gravelly slopes
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:2 to 12 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 7+petals

[photo of flower] A single yellow dandelion-like flower, 1 to 2 inches across, at the tip of a stout, leafless stem. Bracts are overlapping but in a single layer, up to 1 inch long, lance-linear with a sharply pointed tip, hairless, sometimes spotted or striped with red.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves form a loose to crowded rosette around the base of the flower stalks. Blades are long and narrow, 1/8 to ¾ inch wide, 2¾ to 11½ inches long with a pointed tip, scattered woolly hairs on the upper surface especially along the broad central vein, crisp wavy edges with short, dense, soft hairs, and often folded or curled up some lengthwise. Flowering stems typically have fine vertical lines or striations, as well as woolly hairs especially just under the flower head.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

Fruit is a dry seed, ¼ to 1/3 inch long, with a tuft of bristly white hairs to carry it off in the wind.


To an under observant hiker, Nothocalais cuspidata could easily pass as just another common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) at a glance, rare prairie habitat notwithstanding. But the long, narrow, almost grass-like leaves of the false dandelion easily distinguishes it. But there is another native "false dandelion" - Agoseris glauca - that also looks very similar and in fact some earlier botany references have N. cuspidata listed as Agoseris cuspidata. It, too, has long, narrow leaves but they are more limber and glossy smooth. Also it requires rich, moist to almost wet meadow, whereas N. cuspidata will only be found on dry, hilly prairie.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Spangle Creek Labs - Native orchids, lab propagated

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Whitewater Wildlife Management Area, Winona County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Seven Sisters Prairie in Douglas County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Deborah - Eden Prairie bluff prairie
on: 2016-04-24 20:45:15

Pretty cool especially the leaves. Had not seen this before.

Posted by: Jason - Sibley County
on: 2019-05-24 11:06:55

Now blooming on a tiny bluff top sand/gravel prairie. Sure, it might resemble a common dandelion in passing but its much more beautiful with its cool foliage.

Posted by: Charles Argue
on: 2019-11-20 17:15:18

I understand that this species, unlike agroseris glauca, lacks beaks on its achenes. Have you found this to be reliable?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2019-11-20 22:58:30

Charles, we haven't studied the achenes so don't know.

Posted by: Sara - Yellow Medicine county
on: 2021-05-11 12:11:34

Many blooming on our sandy, dry hills in remnant pasture.

Posted by: Brian - Ottawa Bluffs, Le Sueur County
on: 2021-08-09 21:27:54

I found about a dozen plants of this species fairly close together on a gravelly bluff at Ottawa Bluffs Preserve (The Nature Conservancy) on May 11, 2021. They were past prime bloom but readily identifiable. I've also seen them on the small bluff prairie in Sibley County that Jason describes above. That was the first place that I had ever seen this species.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the spammers out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.