Orange Hawkweed- Hieracium aurantiacum
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Orange hawkweed's native range is in Europe. The ancient Greeks reputedly coined the term 'hawkweed' because they thought that hawks ate the sap of these plants to sharpen their eyesight. It is a perennial plant which grows up to 400 mm high and has bright orange flowers and hairy stems and leaves. Each flowering shoot consists of 5-30 flower heads, 10-20 mm in diameter. The 12-30 tiny black seeds are ribbed and have a tuft of bristles on the flattened end.
Orange hawkweed has matted hairy leaves and handsome flowers, each about an inch in diameter and usually red on the margin, merging into an orange-colored center. The flowering branches, or shoots, grow from a few inches to two feet in height. They are leafless and covered with stiff black hairs.
H. aurantiacum is considered to be one of the most noxious weeds in the New England states, as reflected by common names such as King Devil and Devil’s Paintbrush. In our area Hitchcock and Cronquist reports it only as "West of the Cascades in Washington and in Flathead County Montana". Other sources however show H. aurantiacum to be widely distributed in northeastern Washington with the worst of the known infestations occurring in Pend Orielle County. A note by Marion Ownbey at the Washington State University herbarium shows this species to have been introduced in Spokane in 1945. H. aurantiacum is a serious pest of lowland pasture, mountain meadows, and lawns. It is often cosmopolitan (found in cities) because the unwary wildflower enthusiast has been known to bring it home as an ornamental.
Website, video, and graphics by Rob Nelson
For more information on this plant or management please contact US Army Corp of Engineers