Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Is it a dandelion? Is it hawkweed? No! It's catsear! Catsear is often mistaken for dandelions. The leaves are similarly shaped, but they are smoother and hairy. The flower stems are not hollow and often branch into two or three stems for two or three flowers while each dandelion stem only has one flower. We have a lot of catsear in our yard!

Catsear is not native to our area. It is native to Europe and has been spread to North America, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Its scientific name is Hypochaeris radicata.

Now for a few interesting facts about catsear. It is named for the shape and hairiness of the ends of the leaves which are suppose to resemble cats' ears. (I don't see the resemblance so much!) It is toxic in large quantities to horses. The leaves are edible. (The hairiness makes them rather unpalatable to me.) The roots are also edible and are sometimes roasted and ground for a coffee substitute!

1. poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)
2. red maple (Acer rubrum)
3. Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
4. staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina)
5. common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
6. New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
7. Canada goldenrod (Solidago altissima)
8. catsear (Hypochaeris radicata)