T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Crepis capillaris (Hawksbeard)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperm
(unranked): Asteridsms
(unranked): Eudicots
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Cichorieae
Genus: Crepis
Species: C. capillaris
Binomial name: Crepis capillaris
Common name: Hawksbeard, 

Crepis capillaris is a species of the Crepis genus, regarded as a native from the southern part of Northern Europe to the northern part of central Europe. It can be found throughout the world as an introduced species and sometimes a garden weed. It is a low, annual plant commonly found on roadsides.

Hawksbeard is often confused with a number of other weed species which look similar to it. In the vegetative phase, it is very difficult to tell apart from the dandelion. Once it is flowering it also looks quite similar to weeds such as catsear, hawkbit and sowthistle. Unlike dandelion, catsear and hawkbit, hawksbeard is an annual weed or it may survive into a second season to become a biennial. As a result, it is found in slightly different habitats. The other perennial "flatweeds" just mentioned are usually found in turf and pastures, whereas hawksbeard is more likely to be found in crops and gardens. However, it can also cause problems in young turf or newly sown pastures. Being an annual, it needs bare soil to establish each year; whereas perennial weeds like dandelion only need to establish once then can continue living in turf or pastures for many years.

Crepis capillaris start life as a flat rosette which can easily survive mowing, unlike sow thistle which tends to have a more upright rosette. It can be differentiated from catsear and hawkbit as these two both have bristly hairy leaves, whereas hawksbeard and dandelion have reasonably hairless leaves. The lobes of dandelion leaves tend to point down towards the base of the leaf, whereas hawksbeard lobes point directly outwards. Once the weeds flower, they become easier to tell apart. Hawksbeard has branched, leafy flower stems, unlike dandelion, catsear and hawkbit. 

Opening flower


The reddish grooved stalk

The taproot

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/