Cat's Ear
Hypochaeris radicataAsteraceae
Whole Plant
Whole PlantFlowerFruitStem
Photos (c) Cheryl Comeau Beaton unless otherwise noted


  • False dandelion, Common cat's-ear, Frogbit, Gosmore, Hairy cat's ear, Spotted catsear

The Plant:

  • A deep taprooted perennial that grows as a rosette of lobed basal leaves. When in flower, it is a slender, erect, plant, 8-16 inches tall.

The Leaves:

  • dark green
  • basal rosette
  • 3 to 5 inches long
  • very hairy on lower and upper surfaces
  • lobed
  • mid-rib prominent
  • emit a milky sap when wounded

The Stem:

  • slender
  • smooth
  • sometimes branched
  • with scale-like bracts
  • mostly free of leaves
  • flower stalks: branched, hold a few flowers and also emit a milky sap

The Flowers:

  • Yellow dandelion-like flowers with many notched petals. Flowers are 1 inch in diameter, enclosed by .5 inch long scales, and held on branching, leafless stalks. At the base of each flower is a narrow, pointed, scale.

The Fruits:

  • similar to a dandelion in aggregate fruit shape
  • individual fruits 1/4 inch long, rough
  • each seed attached to parachute-like whitish hairs
  • slender necked
  • fruit-scale is as long as the fruit and its bristles

The Habitat:

  • lawns and grassy areas
  • fields
  • disturbed sites


  • seeds wind-dispersed

Key ID Features:

  • basal rosette
  • lobed
  • very hairy
  • dandelion-like yellow flowers
  • tips of petals notched

Similar Species:

  • Mouse Ear Hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella) resembles Cat's Ear but doesn't have lobed or toothed margins and has stiff dark hairs on its flower stalks.
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is also similar but it is distinguished by much more divided leaves, lack of pubescence and flower stalks that hold only one flower.


  • Can be highly competitive in poor or disturbed soils and like dandelions can be viewed as a nuisance in lawn and gardens
  • On Nantucket, more information is needed about this species. The state of New York lists it an invasive.

Growth Form: Herb

Origin: Mediterranean region

Level of Invasiveness for Nantucket: Do not list at this time

Level of Invasiveness for Massachusetts: Not evaluated

Massachusetts Cultivation Restrictions: no

Credits: The Electronic Field Guide to the Invasive Plants of Nantucket (c) 2005-2006 Maria Mitchell Association, EFG Project, UMass Boston