Dandelion bears a sun-yellow flower head (which is actually composed of hundreds of tiny flowers) typical of the Asteraceae family, that closes in the evening or during cloudy weather and opens back up in the morning, much like its cousin calendula. When the flower is closed, to some, it looks like a pig's nose, hence one of its names, 'swine's snout.' It is a perennial herb with deeply cut leaves that form a basal rosette, somewhat similar to another family member, the wild lettuce, and has a thick tap root which is dark brown on the outside and white on the inside. It is native to most of Europe, Asia, and northern Africa, naturalized all over the world, and commonly found growing alongside roads and in lawns as a common weed.
Dandelion is produced commercially in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the former Yugoslavia, and the United Kingdom. However, dandelion grows practically everywhere, and is wild collected in a variety of climates, even in the Himalayas up to about 12,000 feet, where it is often gathered for use in Ayurvedic medicine (the traditional healing system of India). Dandelion will grow anywhere, but will produce more substantial roots in moist, rich, deep soil. Pharmacopeial grade dandelion leaf is composed of the dried leaves collected before flowering and the root collected in autumn or whenever its inulin content is the highest.