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Hairy Cat’s Ear

Family Name
Asteraceae (Sunflower)
Hypochaeris radicata

Hairy cat's ear (Hypochaeris radicata) is a perennial that infests pastures, meadows, roadsides, river banks, lawns and disturbed open areas as well as legume and seed crops. It is also thought to be poisonous and is believed to be the cause of Australian Stringhalt in horses.

Hairy cat's ear has 1-1.5" wide dandelion-like, yellow flowerheads at the end of upright stems. Rosettes of rough hairy leaves and a clump of basal leaves form from a woody base. Stems are typically leafless ad branched, and contain a milky juice when broken. 

Originally from the Meditterrean, hairy cat's ear is a particular problem on Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast and emerging in the southern interior of BC, and impacts sensitive Garry Oak ecosystems. It can displace native plants, especially in open areas, and is a nuisance plant on lawns. Hairy cat's ear enjoys a wide range of habitats but thrives in sunny disturbed areas the most.

Control of hairy cat's ear is best when it first appears with hand digging to carefully remove the crown. This invader is persistent and will return following treatments since it has ample airborne seeds that aid rapid spread. Control larger populations with repeated plowing, followed by reseeding or by solarization (plastic cover on soil).