Pilosella officinarum - Mouse-ear Hawkweed

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Asterales - Family: Asteraceae

Mouse-ear Hawkweed

We see bright yellow roadside banks with thousands of hawkweed flowers waving in the summer breeze or swirling in the slipstream created by passing vehicles. Rarely can we say at a glance with any confidence which species they are - indeed, many people simply (and quite wrongly) assume that they are all dandelions!


There are very many species of hawkweeds, and Pilosella officinarum is a complex of many species with numerous subspecies, varieties and forms. Mouse-ear Hawkweed, gets its name from the hairy oval leaves at the base of the plant. Separating the various yellow hawkweed species requires specialist knowledge and much patience.

Mouse-ear Hawkweed, side view of flowers

Mouse-ear Hawkweed is a hairy perennial perennial plant, with a distinctive basal rosette of oval untoothed leaves whose undersides are covered in dense whitish glandular hairs. .The leafless stem, typically up to 25cm tall but occasionally reaching to 50cm, bears a single lemmon yellow flower head 2 to 3cm in diameter whose outer rays ('petals' as some people losely term them) have red or orange-red undersides. New plants form at the ends of runners, which then decay so that the parent plant is no longer attached to the clones that it has produced vegetatively. As with other hawkweeds, Mouse-ear Hawkweed also propagates by seeds.


This lovely hawkweed is common and widespread throughout Britain and Ireland, and its native range extends through mainland Europe into parts of Asia..


On dryish roadside verges and grassy banks,

Flowering Times

In Britain and Ireland the flowers of Mouse-ear Hawkweed can be seen from May to October, but thy are usually at their best in mid summer.

Similar Species

Fox-and-cubs an orange hawkweed, is also abundant in the UK, and can create a spectacular roadside display in high summer.

The picture on this page was taken in August.

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