The mapping/accounts page is here.

Species-accounts are those from A Flora of Cumbria (1997), for species which are covered therein. Updating comments may be added in due course.
The BSBI has provided a great deal of recent information on the identification of (UK-wide) Taraxaca here – including keys to each Section.
123 species were dealt with in A Flora of Cumbria; 162 are currently recorded.

List of Cumbrian Taraxaca at April 2024, by Section
(See useful comments and a key to the Sections further down, in the archived section.)

Section Celtica
TT. berthae; bracteatum; britannicum; cambricum; celticum; cestrense; duplidentifrons; excellens; fulgidum; fulvicarpum; gelertii; haematicum; hesperium; inane; lancastriense; landmarkii; luteum; nordstedtii; olgae; ostenfeldii; porteri; privum; pseudonordstedtii; subbracteatum; tamesense; unguilobum

Section Erythrosperma
TT. arenastrum; argutum; brachyglossum; degelii; falcatum; fulviforme; fulvum; glauciniforme; haworthianum; inopinatum; lacistophyllum; oxoniense; parnassicum; proximiforme; proximum; rubicundum; scoticum

Section Hamata
TT. atactum; boekmanii; fusciflorum; hamatiforme; hamatulum; hamatum; hamiferum; kernianum; lamprophyllum; lancidens; marklundii; pruinatum; pseudohamatum; quadrans; sahlinianum; spiculatum; subhamatum

Section Naevosa
TT. euryphyllum; maculosum; naevosiforme; naevosum; pseudolarssonii; richardsianum; stictophyllum; subnaevosum

Section Obliqua
T. obliquum

Section Palustria
T. palustre

Section Ruderalia
TT. aberrans; acroglossum; acutifidum; acutifrons; adiantifrons; aequilobum; aequisectum; alatum; altissimum; ancistrolobum; angulare; angustisquameum; aurosulum; coartatum; cophocentrum; cordatum; corynodes; croceiflorum; cyanolepis; densilobum; diastematicum; dilaceratum; dilatatum; ekmanii; exacutum; expallidiforme; exsertum; fagerstroemii; fasciatum; hepaticum; hexhamense; horridifrons; huelphersianum; incisum; insigne; interveniens; intumescens; lacerifolium; laciniosifrons; laciniosum; laeticolor; laticordatum; latisectum; latissimum; lepidum; lingulatum; longisquameum; lucidum; lunare; macrolobum; maculatum; melanthoides; multicolorans; necessarium; nigridentatum; nitidum; oblongatum; ochrochlorum; pachylobum; pachymerum; pallescens; pallidipes; pannucium; pannulatiforme; pannulatum; pectinatiforme; piceatum; planum; polyodon; procerisquameum; rhamphodes; sagittipotens; scotiniforme; sellandii; sinuatum; stenacrum; stenoglossum; subcyanolepis; subexpallidum; sublaeticolor; subundulatum; sundbergii; tanyphyllum; trilobatum; tumentilobum; undulatiflorum; undulatum; vastisectum; xanthostigma

Introductory account and key, A Flora of Cumbria (1997)

[Reproduced with permission]
“[This account is substantially that prepared by Chris Haworth in 1989 shortly before his untimely death. It has been revised by Andrew Dudman to incorporate subsequent records and recent taxonomic work (Dudman & Richards 1997).]

The genus Taraxacum poses considerable problems for the Flora writer. Like Hieracium and Rubus, this largely apomictic group abounds in species (microspecies), about 250 being currently recognised in the British Isles. This fact alone creates obvious problems of coverage as well as of identification. Dandelions are, however, even commoner and more widespread than hawkweeds or brambles, and the weedy nature of many species in some of the sections compounds the recording problem. Yet this very abundance demands some serious treatment in a Flora.
However, there are further difficulties, which have led to the genus still being by far the least understood of the ‘difficult’ genera that are represented in these islands. It seems worth outlining why. Firstly, in contrast to the intensive attention that most of our flora has received for a hundred years and more, Taraxacum has been strangely neglected. British botanists were reluctant (some still are!), despite the obvious genetic variation of these ubiquitous plants, to accept the special taxonomic problems present. The treatment in the Atlas of the British Flora (Critical Supplement) (Perring & Sell 1968), for example, actually impeded progress. Secondly, the material is not ‘easy’: the collecting season is short and only practicable during the spring flush from mid-March (in sheltered lowland places) to the end of June (in the uplands), collecting and herbarium preparation must be done with great care, and there is a daunting phenotypic plasticity. Thirdly, there appear to be many rare species (including some yet unpublished). Many are doubtless local endemics, but, with over 2000 species worldwide, there is a large pool of potential casuals, especially in section Ruderalia. These rarities cloud the identification process. Reflecting these difficulties is the fact that Richards’s (1972) Taraxacum Flora dealt with only about half the species now known in Britain. Nevertheless, A.J. Richards and I now agree that there are about 100 ‘important’ species in Great Britain, i.e. those that are common, at least regionally, and are well understood taxonomically. Many of these have been recorded in Cumbria.
All these factors, then, have influenced the treatment here. Fig. 19 indicates the number of species recorded in each 10 km square. Clearly the cover is inadequate and uneven. No records from v.c.65 (N.W. Yorkshire) are included and only some squares in west Cumbria can claim to approach a representative coverage. What the map does suggest, however, is that one might expect the average number of species per square to be about 50. The total number of species in this account is 123, and this accords with the picture for other well-studied areas.
It is inevitable that there will be some errors of omission and commission with such a fluid and complex genus. Nevertheless, the writer is convinced that this report represents a fairly accurate picture of Cumbrian dandelions. It is unlikely that any significant species has been overlooked. Further work could doubtless change the picture for some of the apparently uncommon species and there will always be problems of misidentification and misinterpretation. The author has made the majority of records (many in the field) and determinations; most of the other records are those of A.J. Richards and A.A. Dudman. Collections of modest size have been made by a number of Survey workers. These contributions have been included here and the author is grateful for these efforts. Species with more than ten 10 km square records are mapped. Representative material is in OXF and LANC.
Regarding the Sections, it should be understood that, of their nature, the concept is ‘multidimensional’. In other words, anyone using the keys should use as many characteristics as possible. Ecological ones are given more weight than is perhaps usual. It should be noted that some species occur at the boundaries of sections. This underlies the somewhat arbitrary nature of sections, which are meant to reduce the genus to more manageable groups, as well as to engender taxonomic meaning.
Maybe these finer points will not concern the average Flora user, but are made both to underline the relative youth of British Taraxacology, and perhaps more importantly, to act as a stimulus to encourage botanists to meet the many challenges yet to be encountered in this, the last major frontier of British floristic botany.
The task of constructing keys to the species has, so far, proved beyond the author’s skill and energies! Attempts to use the familiar and simple, one-character dichotomous keys provided by workers in other large and critical genera have convinced him of the limitations to such keys. One might suggest that they are at best often misleading, and at worst mischievous, where they can give the average botanist what may be false concepts, which may then prove difficult to eradicate. To be more positive, however, most of the following accounts include a description of some distinguishing features of each species. Most attention has been given to those species which the author feels warrant this. At the end of the day, if the student admits that there is something that can be said beyond ‘hic sunt dentes leonis, the writer will be gratified!
Finally, a few acknowledgments: Without the constantly stimulating encouragement over the years from my co-worker John Richards, on whose shoulders all British taraxacologists stand, most of the advances evinced below would never have occurred. My friend Andrew Dudman has been ever supportive in ways too numerous to mention, both in the field and in particular with the production of this account. My wife Bertha has proved to be a patient word-processor in the face of outrageous demands and changes of mind. In addition, without her domestic succour through some difficult times, the account would never have appeared. Words, being inadequate for thanks, the following account will, I trust, suffice instead. I lay a firm claim to the errors of all types which certainly remain.

C.C.H. October, 1989 (Chris Haworth died December 2, 1989)

Comments on Sections (A Flora of Cumbria, 1997)

Section 1. Erythrosperma: This largely native section is well represented in Cumbria. The main characteristics and habitats are indicated in the above key.

Section 2. Obliqua: This section has few species and is seemingly very discrete and natural. The species have a superficial resemblance to section Erythrosperma but the leaves have a different texture and the achenes are very different.

Section 3. Palustria: There are only a handful of British species in this section which morphologically is very distinct. All are uncommon or rare and grow in wet, nutrient-rich places and there is little doubt that many British populations have been extinguished over the years with the draining of suitable habitats.

Section 4. Spectabilia: Recent work has suggested a narrower concept than hitherto for members of this section. The achene shape and size alone clearly separate the species from those of other sections. A study of holotypes and the plasticity of British material through experimental work has suggested that there is essentially only one very variable but very common species in Britain with, at most, a couple of very restricted rarities. Plants previously called Taraxacum eximium Dahlst. and T. spectabile Dahlst. are now all included within Taraxacum faeroense.

Section 5. Naevosa: This is a largely native section with many endemic species. These are mainly confined to western and northern Britain in grassy places in the uplands. Not surprisingly then, there are some common Cumbrian species. With a few exceptions (e.g. Taraxacum subnaevosum), the plants are robust with large capitulae. Pollen is often absent. The chief morphological characteristic of this section is the presence of pigment spots on the upper leaf surface. The unwary can confuse these with disease or the midrib blotch of many species belonging to other sections.

Section 6. Celtica: As the name suggests, the species of this section are concentrated in oceanic areas and thus Cumbria is well represented by members, some of which are abundant. All the species are thought to be native and some are endemic. It is a somewhat heterogeneous section and merges into several others, in particular section Hamata. However, it seems to be a very convenient grouping which serves to reduce the genus to more manageable chunks.

Section 7. Hamata: This section forms a fairly coherent grouping morphologically. The species also share a chromosomal peculiarity. Their status in Britain is somewhat difficult to ascertain as most tend to behave in a weedy fashion. Some, if not most, are nevertheless undoubtedly native. They include some of Britain’s most abundant species and the Cumbrian picture mirrors this. Collectors (and referees!) should avoid small and immature material with even greater determination than usual, for this is the most ‘critical’ of the sections.

Section 8. Ruderalia: On the open road on a sunny mid-April day, the carpet of yellow along road-verges and on roundabouts speaks to the botanist and layman alike, that spring is truly here again. For the taraxacologist, in addition, there is challenge – even potential panic. For almost all these dandelions will belong to the section Ruderalia. Since this section contains more than half the known (and unknown!) British dandelions, and there being a considerable pool from the Continent to draw upon as introductions, it is perhaps not surprising that difficulties of identification loom large. Moreover, their generally robust size can understandably deter even the most ardent collector. Even when not so deterred, the authority to whom the student sends his collection all too often finds himself faced with poorly presented and ill-dried material. Small wonder then that this section poses most problems for the taraxacologist and flora-writer.
Yet much can be said to redress this gloomy introduction. The really common British (and Cumbrian) dandelions are relatively few and quite well understood. There is little doubt that many of these are native too, for whilst straying into ruderal habitats, they present certain clues which suggest this status.
In order then to simplify the matter, the author has decided to treat this section in a different way from the others. The first part will deal with the more significant species (as far, that is, as the author feels them to be so). These will generally be common. Most too are probably native and can be assumed to be so unless stated otherwise. The second part will deal much more briefly with a motley collection comprising species with few records, or those which are not well-understood, or even in some cases as yet unpublished. In this part it ca n be assumed that the species is probably introduced unless otherwise indicated. [NB: these two ‘parts’ refer to the treatment in the Flora, but not followed in the online treatment.]
For most dandelions (and indeed for many British plants) there are problems of ascertaining the status of each species and the whole spectrum of problems can be illustrated in this section. However, some are known to be pan-European (e.g. Taraxacum alatum); some are certainly common natives, though not confined to these islands even though we may be the main centre of distribution (e.g. T. cordatum); some appear to be widespread endemics (e.g. T. stenacrum); some, one can be fairly certain, are introductions even if widespread in Britain, for they never seem to be found away from the edge of main roads (e.g. T. undulatiflorum). In other cases, determining the status is more difficult: for example, one does not know whether one is looking at the remnants of a relict native species or a casual introduction. 2 In other instances (e.g. T. fasciatum and T. sellandii), the species can be abundant on roadsides but is occasionally found in semi-natural grassland. Further studies should help elucidate at least some of these problems.

Key to Sections (A Flora of Cumbria, 1997)

For details of the terminology used, see Dudman & Richards’s Handbook (1997). The species are arranged alphabetically within each section, the sections following the sequence in the Handbook and in Kent (1992). Besides leaf morphology and achene colour, the outer involucral bracts (here referred to just as ‘bracts’) are very important. In the newly opened inflorescence their orientation is particularly characteristic for each species. Three species are keyed out, these being the only representative of their sections in Cumbria.
Only one of the nine British sections, Section Taraxacum, is not represented in Cumbria. It contains very few British species which are known only from high Scottish mountains, but it is not totally inconceivable, though unlikely, that small relict populations may lurk in the Welsh or Lake District hills.

1. Small plants with small capitulae <3 cm; leaves usually highly dissected; inner and outer bracts often with corniculate appendages
  2. Achenes grey-brown, pyramidal cone <0.5 mm; lvs often with > 6 pairs of lateral lobes  T. obliquum, Section 2. Obliqua
  2. Achenes usually reddish to yellowish-brown, cylindrical cone c.l mm; lvs rarely with > 6 pairs of lateral lobes    Section 1. Erythrosperma
1. Plants not as above, generally more robust and with achenes with a shorter conical cone
  3. Leaves grass-like; outer bracts broad, tightly adpressed and with a scarious border, plants of basic, wet habitats    T. palustre, Section 3. Palustria
  3. Plants not as above
   4. Plants small but capitulae relatively large; leaves ovate to lanceolate, almost entire or with many recurved lobes, often spotted; bracts ovate and erect to adpressed; achenes (with cone) at least 5 mm; oblong; very variable plants of moist or boggy habitats    T. faeroense, Section 4. Spectabilia
   4. Plants generally more robust and with achenes rarely more than 4 mm and then more conical
    5. Lvs usually conspicuously spotted above and hairy; bracts rarely reflexed; pollen sometimes absent; robust plants of damp, grassy habitats, often upland    Section 5. Naevosa
    5. Lvs very rarely spotted, if so, then glabrous; bracts various; pollen usually present
     6. Lvs with red or colourless petiole and midrib; upper surface of midrib lacking green and coloured streaks. If shape complex; bracts rarely erect; pollen nearly always present  Section 8. Ruderalia
     6. Lvs with coloured petiole and midrib, upper surface of midrib with interwoven streaks (use lens), lvs generally rather flat and simple in shape; bracts seldom long or reflexed; pollen sometimes absent
      7. Lf lobes usually hamate (hooked) and rather obtuse, petiole seldom either green or brilliantly purple/red; bracts arched, short, dark, often suffused purple and pruinose; pollen always present; rather weedy in habit    Section 7. Hamata
      7. Lf lobes more triangular, patent and acute; petiole often brightly coloured; pollen sometimes absent; plants of more natural, damp habitats    Section 6. Celtica