Catsear (Hypochaeris radicata
) is an erect perennial which looks very similar to dandelion (Taraxacum officinale
). It is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa but has been introduced to other regions worldwide. Catsear is most commonly found growing on sandy or gravely soils.
Catsear is palatable to horses, and as such they will seek it out when found growing in horse pastures. Catsear's leaves are also more distinctly lobed than dandelion.
Cat sear characteristics:
- Young plants: Seedlings grow initially out of a rosette of basal leaves.
- Stem: Stems are 8 to 16 inches tall, smooth and often branched, with solitary flower heads at the tips of each branch. Stems contain a milky sap and may contain a couple scattered, small, leaf-like bracts along the stem.
- Leaves: Leaves at the bottom are in the shape of a basal rosette with lance-shaped, irregular lobes. The leaf surfaces and margins are covered with coarse hairs.
- Flowers: Catsear produces a single, flat, dandelion-like flower head at the end of each branch, which contains many individual, petal-like flowers. Flowers can bloom anytime between May until October, however they are most commonly seen blooming in September.
- Fruit: Produces narrow, red-brown, spindle-shaped fruits which contain a single seed.
- Root system: Common catsear has a deep, fibrous root system with enlarged roots that look like taproots.
Catsear has been associated with horses developing Australian stringhalt
, characterized by spasmodic hyperflexion of one of both hind legs. Catsear looks similar to common dandelion, and has a rosette of basal leaves and multiple branching flower stems.