Yellow Hawkweed - Hieracium praealtum, click for a larger image
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Yellow Hawkweed - Hieracium praealtum, click for a larger image

Yellow Hawkweed - Hieracium praealtum
Family - Asteraceae
Also known as - King Devil

A common perennial with a flower similar to Dandelion but on a much taller slightly hairy stalk.  Can grow to 90cm (3ft) with a flat topped clustered of 3-35 flowers, with each flower having it's own short stem.  It has an upright growth habit.  Flowers are bright yellow multi-rayed, each strap like petal being deeply toothed (5) at the outer edge only, with finely hairy clasping involucral bracts.  Fruits to a small black cylindrical seed 2mm x 0.5mm (0.08 x 0.02in), the top of the seed having brown bristles (pappus) 4-8mm (0.15-0.3in) long.  Green un-toothed leaves, pale green below 3-5cm (1.2-2in) long with few hairs on the leaf margins and underside mid-rib of the leaf.

Propagates by seed and stolons (above-ground shoots) approx 8-20cm (3-8in) long, over time forming swaths of yellow flowers in fields.  Found in grassed areas, fields, sunny hedgerow banks, open areas with no grazing, native to Europe and Asia, introduced elsewhere.  The common name Hawkweed are for the Hieracium genus of the Asteraceae family, it is an old name from folklore supposedly derived from Hawks eating the plant to improve their eyesight.  Classed as an invasive weed in some countries, recorded naturalisation in New Zealand in 2004.  Yellow Hawkweed is called "Sparviere fiorentino" in Italian.

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