Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Two More Non-Dandelions

Cat's-ear, Hypochaeris radicata.  Hayes Common, 13 June 2012
Cat's-ear, Hypochaeris radicata.  Hayes Common, 13 June 2012
Two more yellow flowers that look like Dandelions, but aren't.

Identifying a plant in a group like this, where many species look quite similar, is tricky. This one, Cat's-ear, can be identified by the following criteria:

There are no forked hairs on the underside of the leaves (that would make it a Hawkbit.)  There are dark-tipped bracts along the flower stems, which are single or have few branches.  The flowers are bright yellow, with the outer florets greyish beneath.  Around the flower-head are many erect, overlapping, purple-tipped bracts with bristles on their midribs.  And inside the flower, mixed with the florets, there are small, long-toothed scales, which you can find if you pull the flower apart.

You can see many of those things in the photo, but by no means all.  So it is quite necessary for even a partly serious botanist to carry a decent hand lens. 

Rough Hawkbit, Leontodon hispidus.  Hutchinson's Bank, 14 June 2012.
Rough Hawkbit, Leontodon hispidus.  Hutchinson's Bank, 14 June 2012.
This one does have forked hairs on the underside of its leaves, which you can see with a hand lens.  That, and the very hairy calyx, make this a Rough Hawkbit.  (The Lesser Hawkbit, which also has those forked hairs, has a hairless calyx.)

But these flowers also have a different overall look to them if you first assimilate their characteristics and then draw back.  If you then look at the other two non-Dandelions I posted earlier, you can see that they are different again. Once you are familiar with the flowers - and the other parts of the plants - in detail, your eye and mind can pick up those differences even at a glance.

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