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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

31 October, 2015

Nipplewort: not just another dandelion

Dandelion-type flowers can be a real trial for even the experienced botanist on occasions so what chance have we amateurs got? Well, with a little thought, we have a chance with some and this one, nipplewort (Lapsana communis), is a good start.
Nipplewort is a fairly tall plant growing to a metre or more tall and so it cannot be a dandelion. The plant has multiple flowers on shorter branches emanating from a central stem so it cannot be a dandelion. The leaves are not toothed they are fragmented and they do not form a basal rosette but grow out from the central stem so it cannot be a dandelion. The flowers themselves are quite small and simple whereas a dandelion has bold, complex flowers. Nipplewort is a common plant of shady hedgerows and woodland whereas dandelions are found in the open in grassy areas. Hopefully you are getting the idea!
Nipplewort is part of a 'subset' of the dandelion family known as hawkbits and, with experience and using the various features of the flower it is possible to distinguish between them but it does take practice.
So, you are all asking "Why is it called nipplewort?"

Read more: Nipplewort: not just another dandelion