Flatweed, Hypochaeris radicata, catsear, cat's-ear, hairy cat's ear, false dandelion

Hypochaeris radicata (sometimes spelled Hypochoeris radicata), also known as catsear, flatweed, cat's-ear, hairy cat's ear or false dandelion, is a perennial, low-lying edible herb often found in lawns. The plant is native to Europe, but has also been introduced to the Americas, Japan, Australia and New Zealand where it can be an invasive weed. It is listed as a noxious weed in Washington State, in the northwestern United States.


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 radicata is distinguished by its basal rosette of lobed, finely hairy leaves (Anacortes Community Forest Lands, Washington)

Hypochaeris species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the shark moth. Etymology and differences from dandelions

Its name is derived from Greek...(under) and...(young pig). Thus the name should be spelled Hypochoeris. The adjective radicata means with conspicuous roots in Latin (derived from radix, root). In English, Catsear is derived from the words cat's ear, and refers 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, catsear 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. Both plants have similar uses.

Culinary uses

All parts of the catsear plant are edible; however, the leaves and roots are those most often harvested. The leaves are bland in taste but can be eaten raw in salads, steamed, or used in stir-fries. Older leaves can become tough and fibrous, but younger leaves are suitable for consumption. In contrast to the edible leaves of dandelion, catsear leaves only rarely have some bitterness. In Crete, Greece, the leaves of a variety called (pachiés) or (agriorádika) are eaten boiled or steamed by the locals. The root can be roasted and ground to form a coffee substitute.


This species is suspected of causing stringhalt in horses if consumed in excess.

"Flatweed poisoning has also been called 'Australian Stringhalt' because the symptoms mimic those of stringhalt, both conditions being disturbances of the nervous system. ...This plant is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa and has also been found in most of the United States, Canada and other areas worldwide. It is a plant which, unlike other poisonous plants, is quite tasty to your horse and he will likely seek it out in his foraging in the pasture. Flatweed poisoning is defined as a toxicity resulting from ingestion of flatweed. Flatweed, whose scientific name is 'Hypochaeris radicata or Hypochoeris radicata', is noxious plant that is found growing in lawns, pastures, waste areas and other areas of disturbed sandy or gravelly soil. ..." Excellent article on flatweed and horses

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Horsedvm/Poisonous Flatweed
First posted: Nov 3, 2018
Last update: Nov 3, 2018