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    There is considerable disagreement among experts regarding the diminutive alpine and subalpine species of Taraxacum.

Weber and Wittmann state that there are three high altitude native Taraxacum: T. eriophorum, T. ovinum, and T. scopulorum. 

The Flora of the Four Corners Region accepts T. ceratophorum and T. scopulorum as distinct species (T. ovinum and T. eriophorum as synonyms).

Ackerfield accepts T. ceratophorum, T. scopulorum, and T. eriophorum.

The Flora of North America states that because there are no clear lines of demarcation between the species, most high altitude species should be lumped into T. ceratophorum, but FNA does also recognize the distinctness of T. scopulorum (synonym T. lyratum). 

The USDA Plants Database introduces an entirely new twist: T. eriophorum is a distinct species and what others call T. ceratophorum is just a subspecies of T. officinale, the Common Dandelion.

John Kartesz, who I use as the ultimate authority for names on this web site, accepts C. eriophorum as a distinct species, considers T. ovinum a synonym for T. ceratophorum, and T. lyratum a synonym for T. scopulorum. 

Taraxacum ceratophorum

Taraxacum ceratophorum

Taraxacum ceratophorum. Synonym: Taraxacum ovinum, Taraxacum eriophorum. (Horned Alpine Dandelion)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Eureka Gulch, July 18, 2009 and Stony Pass, July 20, 2011.

Taraxacum ceratophorum typically grows 4-7 inches tall on alpine tundra.  The plant is found throughout the Rockies, in most western states, and across all of Canada. In some of these habitats it may reach 20 inches tall.  The Flora of North America indicates that this species "is the most widespread native dandelion in North America, ranging from the low Arctic and boreal zone to the western Cordilleras, in the montane and alpine zones".

This species was first named Leontodon ceratophorus by Karl Ledebour in 1829 from specimens collected in Kamchatka and was renamed Taraxacum ceratophorum by Augustin de Candolle in 1838. Greek gives us both "cerat" and "phoros" for "horn" and "bearing", alluding to the often swollen phyllary tips.

Taraxacum ceratophorum

Taraxacum ceratophorum

Taraxacum ceratophorum. Synonym: Taraxacum ovinum, Taraxacum eriophorum. (Horned Alpine Dandelion)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Stony Pass, July 18, 2009 and July 20, 2011.

The flower stem on this species is cobwebby hairy when young but may be glabrous with age. 

Phyllaries are in one or two rows, two here. The outer phyllaries are much shorter than the inner. Both have dark tips. The inner phyllaries have scarious (thin and not green) margins that reflex as the ray petals enlarge.

Most importantly in separating this Taraxacum species from others are the horned, i.e., cupped or swollen tips on many of the red-tinged phyllaries. The best way to see these horns is to look at the phyllary tips on the far right and far left of each flower head in these photographs. 

               Taraxacum ceratophorum

 

Taraxacum scopulorum

Taraxacum scopulorum. Synonym: Taraxacum lyratum. (Alpine Dandelion)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Spiller/Helmet Ridge, June 22, 2009.

Taraxacum scopulorum grows to no more than two inches tall but its leaves may be from two to ten inches long. In contrast to T. ceratophorum (shown above) the flower stem on this species is not hairy, i.e., it is "glabrous". 

Phyllaries of this species are not horned at their tips and are not scarious margined. Phyllaries in the outer row are broadly triangular, often red-margined, and much shorter than the inner phyllaries.

Leaves are deeply incised.

                                     Taraxacum scopulorum

Taraxacum scopulorum

Taraxacum scopulorum. Synonym: Taraxacum lyratum. (Alpine Dandelion)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Spiller/Helmet Ridge, June 22, 2009.

In 1884 Asa Gray described this species and named it Taraxacum officinale var. scopulorum. In 1900 Per Axel Rydberg renamed it Taraxacum scopulorum. "Scopulorum" is Latin for "rocky places".

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

Taraxacum ceratophorum

Range map for Taraxacum ceratophorum

Taraxacum scopulorum

Range map for Taraxacum scopulorum