Meadowmat wildflower species: Autumn Hawkbit
Autumn Hawkbit – latin name Scorzoneroids autumnalis – is a very common plant in Eurasia (eastern Europe to western Siberia) where it’s a native species, and is part of the daisy family. More recently it’s also been introduced to North America. It looks so similar to the familiar dandelion that is is sometimes referred to as the fall dandelion. The Latin name of the hawkbit’s gens (Leontodon) literally translates to Lion’s Tooth. This is due to the jagged edges of the flower’s petals. Rather interestingly, the name “hawkbit” stems from the ancient belief that hawks used to eat this plant to improve their eyesight. The plant iteslf grwos between 15 and 30 cm in height.
How to recognise Autumn Hawkbit
This yellow wildflower can be spotted from July to September, as this is when the plant flowers. The plant grows one single wildflower per stem, each around 2.5 to 3cm (or 1 to 1.2 inches) in diameter and surrounded by involucral brats. The flowers themselbes are naturally yellow – hence their similarity to to dandelion – but with a slight red tinge to the outer edges of their petals. The tips to the petals are five toothed.
In terms of scent, Scorzoneroids autunmalis only gives off a very faint one, but it is described as similar to that of a pansy and rather pungent.
Where to see Autumn Hawkbit
Autumn hawkbit thrives in many environments, but its most common bahitats are the seashores, snow-bed sites, rocky outcrops, fell tundra meadows, roadsides, lawns, paths, yards, wasteland and pastures. It’s mosty found on sites with more than 20 weeks of dry soil per year and 10 – 20 weeks of wet soil per year. The Autumn Hawkbit requires relatively fertile soil to grow in high numbers. It’s also a good indicator of old meadows.
A great plant for pollinators
This wildflower is on the RHS “Perfect for Pollinators” list, meaning it’s of benefit to and gets many a vist from the butterflies and bees. However, beware of the ‘tephritis leontondontist’ fly as it is known to attack the capitula (flower head) of this particular plant. The hawkbit is a perennial plant and is a welcome sight in managed grassland and hay meadows.