Hypochoeris radicata Hypochoeris radicata Hypochoeris radicata

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Spotted Cat's­ Ear

Hypochaeris maculata

  • Written also: Spotted Cat’s-ear
  • Family: Daisy Family – Compositae, subfamily Cichorioideae (formerly Chicory Family – Cichoriaceae)
  • Growing form: Perennial herb.
  • Height: 40–70 cm (15–30 in.). Stem usually 1-leaved, unbranched (sometimes sparsely branched), roughly haired scape.
  • Flower: Single flower-like capitula approx. 5 cm (2 in.) broad, surrounded by involucral bracts. Capitulum flowers bright yellow (outermost red-streaked), tongue-like, tip 5-toothed. Stamens 5. Gynoecium composed of 2 fused carpels. Involucral bracts overlapping, outermost triangular, rough-haired, blackish green, innermost narrow, with membranous borders. Capitula terminating a solitary scape or several branches.
  • Leaves: In basal rosette, almost stalkless, prostrate. Blade tongue-like, with narrow base, almost round-tipped, sparsely shallow-toothed–with curved or wavy margins, rigid, roughly haired, central vein clear, often reddish. Flowering scape usually with 1 small leaf.
  • Fruit: Achene crowned by feathery hairs.
  • Habitat: Sunny esker ridges, esker woods, forest clearings, sandy meadow slopes, rocky outcrops, natural pastures, meadow banks, roadsides.
  • Flowering time: Jene–July(–August).

Spotted cat’s ear’s large capitula make it a very attractive and eye-catching ornamental plant. In bygone times the appearance of its yellow capitula on meadows meant the beginning of hay-work in agricultural communities. Apart from being a calendar plant, spotted cat’s ear also served as a clock: hay-work began at 6 a.m., the same time as the plant opens its capitulum – and it was time to return home for dinner when it closed up again at 4. Nowadays of course an adjustment must be made for summer time, which is an hour ahead. Spotted cat’s ear has been useful in more concrete ways too: the leaf can be boiled like cabbage and the roots and capitulum make a good general tonic.

Spotted cat’s ear is quite a demanding plant that prefers ridged slopes and river-bank meadows. It suffers from too many trees, as do other light-loving plants, but on the other hand it can’t get too much sunshine: its rootstock goes half a metre (20 in.) down into the earth to where the soil is always damp and nutritious. The seed shoots have a rough start in life in Finland’s capricious climate and many of them die of thirst in the hot summer weather before they had the chance to grow large enough to survive. Spotted cat’s ear grows a long rhizome underground which is as thick as a finger. It produces up to a dozen rosette leaves in the spring to provide reserve nutrition. It doesn’t absorb this nutrition in the autumn; rather still-living leaves eventually sink down when the frosty autumn weather arrives. At the end of the summer most spotted cat’s ear leaves have reddish brown splotches on them like water stains, and this has led to the plant’s scientific name maculata, ’spotted’. Leaves that are pressed against the ground have adapted excellently to the fires that can sweep through dry areas and also to grazing animals.

Cat’s Ear (Catsear, Hairy Cat’s Ear)

Hypochaeris radicata (Hypochoeris radicata)

Also known as Flatweed and False Dandelion. Liuskalehtihäränsilmä on harjuhäränsilmää huomattavasti harvinaisempi ja jonkin verran pienempi. Lajit toisistaan erottava piirre löytyy niiden lehtilaidassa: niin kuin nimestäkin voi päätellä, liuskalehtihäränsilmän lehtilaita on, jos ei nyt ihan liuskainen, niin ainakin isohampainen. Harjuhäränsilmän lehtilaita on korkeintaan mutkalaitainen. Melkein enemmän kuin lähisukulaistaan harjuhäränsilmää, liuskalehtihäränsilmä muistuttaa syys- ja varsinkin kesämaitiaista (Leontodon autumnalis ja L. hispidus).

Other species from the same family

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