Meadow hawkweed, yellow hawkweed, field hawkweed, yellow paintbrush, devil’s paintbrush, yellow devil, yellow fox-and-cubs
Hieracium caespitosum (synonym: Hieracium pratense)
Meadow hawkweed is a perennial in the Asteraceae (sunflower) family. The stem and leaves contain a milky juice. Flower heads are yellow, dandelion-like, and grow in clusters of 5 – 30 at the top of the stems. Each plant can produce 10 – 30 flowering stems. The bracts below the flowerheads are covered in black hairs. The clustered buds are rounded and also covered in black hairs. The leaves are mostly at the base of the plant and are hairy with edges that are either smooth or very minutely toothed. It can spread by seed, rhizome, or stolon.
Height of mature plants
Up to 3 feet
May – July
At first glance, meadow hawkweed looks like a common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) or even a false dandelion (Hypochaeris radicata). However, on meadow hawkweed, the flower heads are more clustered, the buds and stems are covered with black hairs, and the leaves are not lobed like the dandelion and false dandelion. Identification between meadow hawkweed and some of the other hawkweeds can be extremenly difficult, although the above-ground stems and virtual lack of leaves on the stem (occasionally 1-2 small leaves) are helpful characteristics to narrow down the options.
Meadow hawkweed prefers sunny areas, although it can be somewhat shade tolerant. It grows well in low fertility soils and is well-adapted to higher elevations. You can find this plant in meadows, woodlands, fields, and disturbed sites like roadsides, pastures, and gravel pits.
Meadow hawkweed is an aggressively invasive plant that spreads easily and can form monocultures. It out-competes other plants for water, nutrients, and physical space. Its decaying leaves contain chemical compounds that can harm other plants.
Noxious Weed Listing:
- WeedWise: Priority
- State of Oregon: Class B, T
- State of Washington: Class B
- Four County CWMA: Class A
- Columbia Gorge CWMA: Class B