Beaked Hawkweed

Hieracium gronovii

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Photo of beaked hawkweed flowers.
Beaked hawkweed’s flowers look something like those of chicory, only yellow instead of blue.
Gary Reese
Family

Asteraceae (daisies, sunflowers)

Description

Very hairy, usually single-stemmed perennial herb with milky sap. Flowerheads few to many, terminal, each with a peduncle (stem), in open clusters, yellow, small, about ½ inch across. There are 20–40 florets per head. Blooms May–October. Basal leaves broadly obovate, very hairy, rough, variable in length to 8 inches. Stem leaves alternate, smaller, becoming sessile, also very hairy.

Similar species: There are 4 species of Hieracium recorded for Missouri. Long-haired hawkweed (H. longipilum) occurs in a broad band from southwest to northeast Missouri and prefers open areas. It has spreading hairs about ½ to ¾ inch long. Sticky hawkweed (H. scabrum) is scattered to common in the eastern half of the state. It has 40–100 florets per head.

Size

Height: quite variable, commonly from 1 to nearly 3 feet.

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Photo of beaked hawkweed plant showing basal leaves, stalk, and flowers.
Beaked Hawkweed
Beaked hawkweed is a very hairy, usually single-stemmed perennial herb.

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Photo of beaked hawkweed spent flowers and seed heads.
Beaked Hawkweed (Seed Heads)
Beaked hawkweed is a native wildflower found mostly south of the Missouri River, in rocky, dry, open woods, fields, and ravines.
Habitat and conservation

Occurs in rich to dry upland forests, ledges and tops of bluffs, and borders of glades; also pastures, old fields, and roadsides. There are several weedy European species of hawkweeds that are serious pasture and grassland weeds on our continent. One of these, yellow king-devil (H. caespitosum), has been found, but is so far quite rare, in our state. Unfortunately, it is likely that more of these invasives will eventually arrive in our state.

image of Beaked Hawkweed Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

Scattered, mostly south of the Missouri River, and in some of our eastern counties.

Status

Hawkweeds, chicory, salsify, lettuce, dandelions, and others belong to a distinct, easy-to-recognize tribe of the sunflower family, the Cichorieae (chicory tribe). Although most sunflowers have different disk (center) and petal-like ray florets, as in a typical sunflower, plants in the chicory tribe have flowerheads containing florets that are all the same. Each individual floret has a straplike extension with 5 teeth at the tip. Another hallmark of the chicory tribe is white, milky sap.

Human connections

Botanists who study the hawkweeds cannot agree about how many species there are. Although New World species are fairly distinct and easy to tell apart, those in Europe hybridize so much that thousands of species have been named over there. Estimates vary from 100 to many more than 1,000 species!

Ecosystem connections

A variety of insects, including bees, flies, beetles, and others, visit the flowers. Birds eat the seedheads. Deer and rabbits eat the leaves.