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UK Nature > Wild Flowers > Yellow Wild Flowers > Cat's-ear
Common Name: Cat's-ear
Scientific Name: Hypochaeris radicata
Hypochaeris radicata (sometimes spelled Hypochoeris radicata), also known as Cat's-ear, flatweed, hairy cat's ear or false dandelion, is a perennial, low-lying edible herb often found in lawns. The leaves, which may grow up to eight inches (20 cm) tall, are lobed and covered in fine hairs, forming a low-lying rosette around a central taproot. Forked stems carry bright yellow flower heads, and when mature these form seeds attached to windborne "parachutes". All parts of the plant exude a milky sap when cut. Hypochaeris species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera. The name cat's ear is thought to refer to the shape and fine hair on the leaves resembling that of the ear of a cat. The plant is also known as "false dandelion," as it is commonly mistaken for true dandelions. Both plants carry similar flowers which form windborne seeds. However, cat's-ear flowering stems are forked and solid, whereas dandelions possess unforked stems that are hollow. Both plants have a rosette of leaves and a central taproot. The leaves of dandelions are jagged in appearance, whereas those of catsear are more lobe-shaped and hairy. It is a perennial herb of meadows, pastures, lawns, heathland, cliff-tops, sand dunes, roadsides, railway banks and waste ground, on slightly acidic, usually free-draining soils. It is very tolerant of drought, and is absent from sites subject to prolonged waterlogging.
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