Living in the Pacific Northwest, one finds that there are often plants growing happily all year long, even throughout our often wet but mild winter. When I first moved here last year, I noticed an abundance of small dandelion-like rosettes growing among the soggy winter grass. At first I thought:
“Oh great! Fresh dandelion greens all year round.”
Then I looked closer. The leaves of wild catsear have a slightly fuzzy texture, and the tips of the leaves are more pointed than those of dandelions. Where dandelions have an almost waxy, shiny leaf surface catsear’s leaves have a soft slightly crinkly texture. The picture below is a your rosette of catsear leaves:
And this one below is a young rosette of dandelion leaves:
The flowers themselves I found almost indistinguishable, however the stems are quite different. Whereas dandelions have a thick hollow stem, catsear has a thinner solid stem. Below is a dandelion flowerhead:
And here is a catsear flower. Note how the stem is thinner and a little shaggy looking:
So what does it matter you might ask? What’s the important distinction between catsear and dandelion? Honestly, not a lot. Both plants are entirely edible, and packed with vitamins and minerals. Some use the roasted roots of catsear for cofee, and it’s leaves are known to be less bitter.
Happy hunting, and if you have any other question about catsear or dandelion, leave a question in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Wikipedia