Friday, August 15, 2014

Orange Hawkweed: Popsicle coloured flower

Orange Hawkweed © SB
Orange Hawkweed. Just as its name
says, this plant really is a weed.

Introduced from Europe for its unusual flame-colour flowers, it now grows in moist waste areas and wherever else it's permitted. (Lawns, meadows, fields, roadsides, gardens...)

As for me, I love Orange Hawkweed's cheerful colours that range from deep red to bright Popsicle orange and yellow. (In photos and from a distance, at least... Not so much up close, as Orange Hawkweeds — to me — have a distinctive sour smell.)

And, if Hawkweed sounds too boring as a name, Royer and Dickinson provide a range of others in their excellent Weeds of the Northern U.S. and Western Canada: Devil's Paintbrush, Orange Paintbrush, Red Daisy, and Missionary Weed (which I doubt is in any way complimentary to the message-spreading zeal of those good folks...)

In its pamphlet on Orange Hawkweed, the USDA Forest Service adds to that list Red Daisy, Flameweed, Fox-and-Cubs, and oddest of all — perhaps from its black-haired buds? — Grim-the-Collier. That pamphlet also explains the common name, Hawkweed:
"Pliny, the Roman naturalist, believed that hawks fed on the plant to strengthen their eyesight and thus it became the Greek and Latin name for this and similar plants, called hawkweed."
That range of names gives some idea of how prolific and invasive Orange Hawkweed can be. And though I would not transplant it as an ornamental, the colours of Orange Hawkweed still make me smile.

Orange Hawkweed, Grim-the-Collier, Devil's Paintbrush....  A weed by any name.  © SB

Prairie (really, Parkland) Wildflower: Orange Hawkweed  (Hieracium aurantiacum)
Location:  Near Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo Dates: July 15 and 16, 2014. 



  1. I'll be going for a walk in the hills at Buffalo Pound this weekend and will keep my eyes peeled for this striking looking flower/weed.

  2. That was a good find. Dr. Harms lists this plant as "Rare-Introduced" in Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Saskatchewan. Haven't seen it before. Nice photo, the orange colour is very vibrant.

    Some years ago I asked the late John Hudson (an amazing SK self-taught botanist) about this plant. He had only found it way up north near Southend, on Reindeer Lake. He told me the plant needed too much moisture to be found SK's southern prairies and to expect to find it only the Boreal forest in SK. Viewing my ecoregions of SK map, looks like you found it in the Parklands, south of the Boreal forest. Cheers, Glen

    1. This is amazing information, Glen! Thank you so much! And yes, this would have been in the Parklands, although the area where I found it has been "forested" for a long time, and is certainly moist. Also, this plant was in the corner of a small, semi-shaded field, in which I believe various wild flower seeds had been tossed, to see what might grow... perhaps these seeds slipped in somehow then, with samples from elsewhere? (And the day after I took the second of these pix, that part of the field was mown, and the plant was cut down.)


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