Taraxacum erythrospermum (Red-seeded Dandelion)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; disturbed soil, roadsides, waste areas, lawns
Bloom season:June - October
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] Solitary, disk shaped yellow flower heads, ¾-1 inch across, on stout hollow stalks.

[photo of bracts] Around the outside of the base of the disk flowers is a green, receptacle (involucre) with narrow, lance-like bracts (phyllaries) that are glossy and reddish tipped, at least some with a small protuberance just below the tip. Below these bracts is a double row of shorter, lance-like bracts (calyculi) that curl back and down.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are basal, 2 to 10 inches long and ½ to 1½ inches wide, usually wider at the tip end, deeply lobed with sharp triangular to lance-like lobes, often angled towards the base, and random irregular teeth on the edges. The lobe at the tip is typically about the same size as the lateral lobes. Flower stems are erect to ascending, about as long as the leaves, green to pinkish or even red, with fine, cob-webby hairs, especially just below the flower when young, becoming smooth and glossy with age.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a globe seed head 1 to 1½ inches across with a tight cluster of red or red to purplish or brownish seeds in the center, each attached to a white parachute like tuft of hairs (pappus) to carry it off in the wind.


Just about everyone would say they could easily identify dandelion but very few are aware that there are two species found in Minnesota, this and Common Dandelion (T. officinale). While very similar, they can be distinguished on several characteristics, all except one somewhat obscure, especially in stunted specimens found in mowed turf where they typically occur. Red-seeded Dandelion typically has smaller flowers, rarely over 1 inch across and more consistently deeply lobed leaves, the lobes more triangular to lance-like than Common Dandelion, with tips strongly curved back towards the base, as well as the lobes at the tip being approximately the same size as those along its length. The phyllaries on Common Dandelion rarely have the protuberance just below the tip, where they are often present on Red-seeded Dandelion. But easily, when fruits are present, the seeds are clearly red or in variations of purple or brown compared to the dull brown or greenish brown seeds of the more common T. officinale. Though clearly far less common than T. officinale, herbarium collections of T. erythrospermum are spread throughout the state and it is likely greatly under reported in Minnesota, as who is paying attention to this species anyway?

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More photos

Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Ramsey County


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

Posted by: Ann L - Todd County
on: 2017-05-07 17:01:03

I have found both species here! Red- seeded and common. There are so many plants out there that are overlooked and dismissed as just being "one of those". It is great to have the information to sort them out!

Posted by: Matthew T - Rosemount, Dakota County
on: 2017-12-02 16:51:53

There is a dandelion blooming right now December 2nd I think it is a red seeded dandelion. Because common dandelions stop in September but I’m not too sure.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-12-02 17:15:34

Matthew, common and red-seeded dandelions are very similar and bloom seasons are pretty much the same, and unseasonably warm weather in December could cause blooms for either species. If the one you found produces any seed you'd know for certain, but I don't think there are many pollinators out and about at this time of year.

Posted by: Karan B - Isabella / Lake Superior
on: 2018-01-26 14:59:09

I would like to know when is the earliest you would expect dandelions to appear in the spring. And, do you believe that wooly bears caterpillars would eat these dandelions? Any help on the subject would be appreciated.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2018-01-26 16:42:16

Karan, we don't really track that kind of information but in a mild winter and early spring, dandelions might first emerge in March. Like everything else, it depends on favorable conditions. As for woolly bears, your internet search engine of choice will tell you the answer to "do woolly bear caterpillars eat dandelions?"

Posted by: Betsy Oman - East Central Minnesota
on: 2018-05-22 16:59:42

I have just learned that dandelions are edible and quite nutritious. I am assuming that this applies to both varieties. I had actually noticed the variety of leaf structure in my own yard and was wondering about it.

Posted by: Carlyle Davidsen - Coon Rapids
on: 2021-10-01 20:02:31

I think the plant is a Canada dandelion - the flowers are yellow but the buds are much longer (1-2 in.) The flower stems are several (6+in.) long. The leaves are long and do not have jagged edges. The projections from the seeds are several inches (3 in.) and several (3in.) in diameter. The plant has/had multiple blooms.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-10-02 07:57:02

Carlyle, I never heard of a Canadian dandelion (common names are very unreliable when seeking information), but what you describe almost sounds more like Tragopogon than a dandelion. If you'd like confirmation on the ID, post some images on the Minnesota Wildflowers Facebook page.

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