Dandelion
(
Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelions are NOT native to Missouri; they are introductions from Europe and Eurasia.  They are one of the most common weeds in the United states.

The leaves and flower heads of young plants are edible and are often used in salads.  They are twice as rich as spinach in vitamin A.  Like chicory (another familiar weed), the roots have been roasted and used as a substitute for coffee.  Dandelion wine (which is more like mead) is made from the flower heads.

Dandelions are readily consumed by livestock, but have only fair forage value.  Rabbits, turkey, deer and small mammals eat the leaves while prairie chickens prefer the seeds.