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Hawkweed Ox-Tongue (Picris hieracoides)

There is a big group of flowers which basically look like little dandelions. they are known as Hawkweeds, Hawksbeards,and Catsears, they are not that exciting, well not to me and they are quite difficult to tell apart.  They are virtually all yellow, one called Orange Hawkweed is…… you guessed it Orange and one called Mouse eared Hawkweed is a vey light yellow but the rest are all virtually the same colour as a dandelion.

Anyway at the moment in Poitou-Charentes there are still quite a lot of yellow flowers along the sides of the roads, more especially if it is open and not shady. Asyou drive along you will just see lots of little yellow dotty flowers growing about 30/40cm high On close inspection you will see that the plant is quite hairy and rough, if you look very closely at the hairs lower down they are quite dark, almost black on the flower and uper reaches of the stem they are white. Now the key thing to look for is the sepals, these are the green bits below the flower which when the flower is in bud are wrapped around the young flower and protect it.

If your flower is a Hawkweed Ox-Tongue then it will have a lot of sepals which will be quite thin and they will stick out around the base of the flower, as shown in the photograph which I very carefully took to illustrate this point. If it does not have sepals like these then it will be one of the other 20/30 members of this group of wildflowers…. good luck.