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Malacothrix sonchoides
Malacothrix sonchoides (Desert Dandelion)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert. Openings, meadows. Spring, summer.
Corona Arch Trail, Utah, May 20, 2005.

The slender Desert Dandelion inhabits the drier, sandy, rocky areas of the Four Corners.  The short, lobed, basal leaves are diagnostic even before the flower emerges.  The plant is typically between 2 and 14 inches tall, has one-to-six flower stems from the base, and stems often lean and twist.  Flower heads are composed only of ray flowers.

The Greek "malacos" and "trichos", "soft hairs", refer to the downy hairs of the pappus (hair-like structures at the top of Asteraceae seeds).  The flower of Desert Dandelion looks like the flower of Sow Thistle, "Sonchus oleraceus", thus the species name, "sonchoides", which means "similar to Sonchus".

The first specimen of this plant was collected for science "on the plains of the Platte" River by Thomas Nuttall on his 1834-1837 Western trip with the Wyeth Expedition.  Nuttall named the plant Leptoseris sonchoides in 1841 and it was given its present genus name by Torrey and Gray in 1843.

Malacothrix sonchoides

Malacothrix sonchoides

Malacothrix sonchoides (Desert Dandelion)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert. Openings, meadows. Spring, summer.
Corona Arch Trail, Utah, May 20, 2005.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Malacothrix sonchoides