Gas station without pumps

2022 June 15

False dandelions

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:34
Tags: , , , ,

In Lawn flowers (weeds), I tentatively identified the dandelion-like flower in my lawn as a hawkbit.  I found a document BEGINNER’S CORNER: When is a Dandelion not a Dandelion? that tries to separate the different dandelion-like flowers.  I took some more close-up pictures, so that I could try to apply the criteria.


This is the bud of the flower—the bud was not used in the article for classification, but I liked the way it looked.


Here is the flower from a low angle, showing the bracts.


Here is the leaf, showing the spines.


Another view of the leaves.


The flower dissected to show the interior.

The document starts by looking at the stem and leaves to identify true dandelions. Because these stems do not ooze latex when snapped and are hairy rather than bare, I do not have a true dandelion. The hairs on the leaves are only 2–3mm, not 10mm, so this is not Mouse-ear Hawkweed (Pilosella officinarum). The flowers are on single stems and the bracts are simple cups, with no outer set forming a “saucer”, so this is not Hawk’s-beard.

The next step suggests looking for forked hairs on the leaves, to identify hawkbits.  I was not able to see any forking, so maybe this is not a hawksbit after all!

Next they dissect the flower, looking for “papery scales between the florets” to identify cat’s-ear. I did not see any, nor were there any “cat’s ear” scales on the stalk. So probably not a cat’s-ear.

According to the article “Then it’s probably Autumn Hawkbit (this was previously Leontodon autumnalis, but has been moved to a new genus to become Scorzoneroides autumnalis). It’s generally less hairy with a few unforked hairs on the underside of the leaves, and a tapering from stem to flower base. The outer florets are reddish underneath.”

The leaves seem pretty hairy to me and the florets are not reddish underneath (though that doesn’t seem to be essential, as many photos of Scorzoneroides autumnalis on the web don’t have the reddish coloring).  I’m more worried that the buds on the photos on the web all seem to be upright, rather than drooping like the ones I have.  So I am very hesitant to call this an autumn hawkbit.

I read some more hawkbit descriptions, and found “If you have a hand-lens or very good eye-sight, most hairs on hawkbit leaves have split ends, unlike in catsear.” [] So I got out my eye loupes and went and looked again at the leaves.  Sure enough, with the 7.5× and 10× loupes, I could just make out very short forked ends to the hairs on the leaves.  Also the leaves have the narrow shape for hawkbits shown in the comparative photograph at the Massey site.

So I’m now convinced that I do indeed have hawkbits, but whether they are rough hawkbits or lesser hawkbits, I don’t know.  I don’t generally let the hawkbits go to seed (despite the picture in Lawn flowers (weeds)), so I can’t easily check whether the outer ring of fruit has the usual white threads (rough) or not (lesser).

I went out to look for seeds, but all I found were real dandelions and cat’s-ears:


Here is a true dandelion in the lawn (next to the borage).


Here is a cat’s-ear flower.


The cat’s-ear has long (about 2′) branching stems.


Here is the eponymous cat’s ear on the stem of a cat’s-ear.

So the bottom line is that I can’t just say “Oh, the yellow flowers in the lawn are hawkbits”—I have hawkbits, cat’s-ears, and true dandelions. I have to look a little closer at each one to tell which is which. (Tomorrow I mow the lawn, and I won’t be able to tell them apart until they flower again.)

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: