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Prairie False-dandelion (Nothocalais cuspidata)

Life history

Species overview

Prairie False-dandelion (Nothocalais cuspidata), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found on dry, rock prairie bluffs and gravelly hillsides. Blooming occurs early May through early June; fruiting occurs late May through late June. The optimal identification period for this species is early May through early June.

Synonyms: Agoseris cuspidata, Microseris cuspidata, Troximon cuspidata


  • Distinguishing characteristics: The combination of basal-only, grass-like leaves and yellow, bluntly-tipped or fringed ray flowers are enough to distinguish this species from others in the Aster family.
  • Flower characteristics: Numerous, bisexual; rays yellow, truncate at tips and with 5 teeth; disk flowers absent; 17 to 25 mm.
  • Fruit characteristics: Achenes 8 mm, strongly striate throughout, tapering slightly to the truncate, beakless apex.
  • Leaf characteristics: Crowded, narrow, grass-like, 7 to 30 cm long by 3 to 20 mm wide; entire, the margins lined with tiny hairs and often curled, wavy or crinkled.


  • Blooming phenology: early May through early June
  • Fruiting phenology: late May through late June
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is early May through early June


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Anemone caroliniana, A. patens, Opuntia compressa, Monarda punctata, Commelina erecta, Geum triflorum, Viola pedata, Linaria canadensis.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Prairie False-dandelion (Nothocalais cuspidata). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Nothocalais cuspidata in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found on dry, rock prairie bluffs and gravelly hillsides.
  • Soils: Dry, gravelly soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Prairie False-dandelion. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Dry Prairie 3
Sand Prairie 2

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Prairie False-dandelion. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Maintain and restore open habitat through selective clearing and brushing.
  • Prescribed burns and/or brushing may be beneficial (dependent on local site conditions).


Prairie False-dandelion Photo.

Photo © Kitty Kohout.

Prairie False-dandelion Photo.

Photo by Armund Bartz, Wisconsin DNR.

Prairie False-dandelion Photo.

Photo by Kevin Doyle, Wisconsin DNR.

Prairie False-dandelion Photo.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Prairie False-dandelion Photo.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition