Meadow Hawkweed

Meadow Hawkweed
Meadow Hawkweed. Hieracium caespitosum.
Asteraceae, the daisy, sunflower, or composite family.

Plant: Erect, hairy, mostly leafless stems 1'-3' high arising from a basal rosette of hairy leaves and bearing a terminal cluster of yellow, dandelion-like heads. Perennial.
Flowers: Bright yellow dandelion-like heads, 1/2"-3/4", consisting of all ray flowers. The flowers are borne in a single cymose, terminal cluster at the end of the usually leafless stalk. Stem and involucral bracts are densely covered with stiff hairs.
Leaves: Mostly basal, hairy, toothless or obscurely toothed, obanceolate to lanceolate, with a tapering base.
Fruit: Seed-like achene with silky filaments.
Blooming: June-July
Habitat: Fields, meadows, roadsides.

Comments: This European introduction is also commonly known as Yellow King-Devil, and by nearly a dozen scientific synonyms, the most frequent being H. pratense. The genus Hieracium (the hawkweeds) has been notoriously split into species, with several thousand recorded in the literature. Recent genetic studies have resulted in extensive consolidation of historical species, hence the many synonymous scientific names. The very hairy nature of the plant and the single cluster of blooms on a leafless stem are distinctive characteristics. Orange Hawkweed (H. Aurantiacum) is almost identical in form, but has bright orange flowers. The two are often found growing together. The plant is widely distributed in North America, and is considered a noxious weed in several states.

Where to find it: Mainly in the rough meadow to the west of the pond, mixed with orange hawkweed. The blooming season is much shorter than Canada Hawkweed (H. canadense), which is common throughout the park, and may be found blooming from May to November, though most vigorously in the Fall.