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Spotted Cat's-ear

Hypochaeris maculata

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asteraceae (Daisy)
Also in this family:
Alpine Blue Sow-thistle, Alpine Cotula, Alpine Fleabane, Alpine Saw-wort, Annual Ragweed, Annual Sunflower, Argentine Fleabane, Autumn Hawkbit, Autumn Oxeye, Beaked Hawksbeard, Beggarticks, Bilbao Fleabane, Black Knapweed, Black-eyed Susan, Blanketflower, Blue Fleabane, Blue Globe-thistle, Bristly Oxtongue, Broad-leaved Cudweed, Broad-leaved Ragwort, Brown Knapweed, Butterbur, Buttonweed, Cabbage Thistle, Canadian Fleabane, Canadian Goldenrod, Carline Thistle, Chalk Knapweed, Chamois Ragwort, Changing Michaelmas Daisy, Chicory, Chinese Mugwort, Chinese Ragwort, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Sow-thistle, Common Cat's-ear, Common Cudweed, Common Daisy, Common Dandelion, Common Fleabane, Common Goldenrod, Common Groundsel, Common Michaelmas Daisy, Common Mugwort, Common Ragwort, Common Wormwood, Coneflower, Confused Michaelmas Daisy, Corn Chamomile, Corn Marigold, Cornflower, Cotton Thistle, Cottonweed, Creeping Thistle, Daisy Bush, Dwarf Cudweed, Dwarf Thistle, Early Goldenrod, Eastern Groundsel, Eastern Leopardsbane, Elecampane, English Hawkweed, Fen Ragwort, Feverfew, Field Fleawort, Field Wormwood, Fox and Cubs, French Tarragon, Gallant Soldier, Garden Lettuce, Giant Butterbur, Glabrous-headed Hawkweed, Glandular Globe-thistle, Glaucous Michaelmas Daisy, Globe Artichoke, Globe-thistle, Goat's Beard, Golden Ragwort, Golden Samphire, Goldilocks Aster, Grass-leaved Goldenrod, Great Lettuce, Greater Burdock, Greater Knapweed, Grey-headed Hawkweed, Guernsey Fleabane, Hairless Blue Sow-thistle, Hairless Leptinella, Hairy Michaelmas Daisy, Harpur Crewe's Leopardsbane, Hawkweed Oxtongue, Heath Cudweed, Heath Groundsel, Hemp Agrimony, Highland Cudweed, Hoary Mugwort, Hoary Ragwort, Hybrid Knapweed, Intermediate Burdock, Irish Fleabane, Jersey Cudweed, Jerusalem Artichoke, Lance-leaved Hawkweed, Lavender-cotton, Leafless Hawksbeard, Least Lettuce, Leopardplant, Leopardsbane, Leptinella, Lesser Burdock, Lesser Hawkbit, Lesser Sunflower, London Bur-marigold, Magellan Ragwort, Marsh Cudweed, Marsh Hawksbeard, Marsh Ragwort, Marsh Sow-thistle, Marsh Thistle, Meadow Thistle, Melancholy Thistle, Mexican Fleabane, Milk Thistle, Mountain Everlasting, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Musk Thistle, Narrow-leaved Cudweed, Narrow-leaved Hawkweed, Narrow-leaved Michaelmas Daisy, Narrow-leaved Ragwort, New England Hawkweed, New Zealand Holly, Nipplewort, Nodding Bur-marigold, Northern Hawksbeard, Norwegian Mugwort, Oxeye Daisy, Oxford Ragwort, Pearly Everlasting, Perennial Cornflower, Perennial Ragweed, Perennial Sow-thistle, Perennial Sunflower, Pineapple Mayweed, Plantain-leaved Leopardsbane, Ploughman's Spikenard, Plymouth Thistle, Pontic Blue Sow-thistle, Pot Marigold, Prickly Lettuce, Prickly Sow-thistle, Purple Coltsfoot, Rayed Tansy, Red Star Thistle, Red-seeded Dandelion, Red-tipped Cudweed, Robin's Plantain, Roman Chamomile, Rough Cocklebur, Rough Hawkbit, Rough Hawksbeard, Russian Lettuce, Safflower, Salsify, Saw-wort, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Sea Aster, Sea Mayweed, Sea Wormwood, Seaside Daisy, Shaggy Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shaggy Soldier, Shasta Daisy, Shetland Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shrub Ragwort, Sicilian Chamomile, Silver Ragwort, Slender Mugwort, Slender Thistle, Small Cudweed, Small Fleabane, Smooth Cat's-ear, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sow-thistle, Sneezeweed, Sneezewort, Spear Thistle, Spotted Hawkweed, Sticky Groundsel, Stinking Chamomile, Stinking Hawksbeard, Tall Fleabane, Tall Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Tansy, Thin-leaved Sunflower, Treasureflower, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tuberous Thistle, Tyneside Leopardplant, Viper's Grass, Wall Lettuce, Welsh Groundsel, Welted Thistle, White African Daisy, White Butterbur, White Buttons, Willdenow's Leopardsbane, Winter Heliotrope, Wood Burdock, Wood Ragwort, Woody Fleabane, Woolly Thistle, Yarrow, Yellow Chamomile, Yellow Fox and Cubs, Yellow Oxeye, Yellow Star Thistle, Yellow Thistle, York Groundsel
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, meadows, roadsides, rocky places, sea cliffs, wasteland, woodland.

Yellow, many petals
Pale yellow, solitary flowers. The bracts are sometimes black-tipped. Up to 4.5cm in diameter. 5 stamens.
A single-seeded fruit with many, fine white hairs at the end. The seeds ripen between July and September.
A hairy perennial with a basal rosette of well-toothed leaves. The central vein is reddish. Usually blotched, dark purple or black. This is our only Cat's-ear or Hawkbit which can sometimes bear leaves on its stem.
Other Names:
Spotted Hawksbeard, Spotted Hawkweed.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Hypochaeris maculata, also known as spotted cat's ear or spotted hawksbeard, is a species of flowering plant in the daisy family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and has been introduced to other parts of the world as a weed. The plant is known for its small, yellow flowers and hairy leaves. It grows well in a variety of habitats, including fields, gardens, and waste areas. Hypochaeris maculata is a herbaceous plant that can grow up to 60 cm in height. It is commonly found in disturbed areas and is considered an invasive weed in some areas. The plant is toxic to livestock, and can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. It is also known to cause skin irritation in some people.


Spotted Cat's-ear (Hypochaeris maculata) is a wild plant that is commonly found in meadows, fields, and roadsides in Europe, Asia, and North America. It is a member of the Asteraceae family and is known for its beautiful yellow flowers that bloom from May to September.

The plant is named after its leaves, which are shaped like a cat's ear and are covered in spots. It grows up to 30 cm tall and has a rosette of leaves at the base of the stem. The leaves are green and hairy and can be up to 10 cm long. The plant also produces small, yellow, daisy-like flowers that are around 2 cm in diameter. Each flowerhead has several ray florets that form a circular disk and many disk florets that are grouped in the center.

Spotted Cat's-ear is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of soil types and environments, making it a popular choice for gardens and wildflower meadows. It is also an important food source for many pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and moths, and is a source of nectar for many species of birds.

The plant is also used in traditional medicine in some countries to treat various ailments, such as skin irritation, bladder infections, and respiratory problems. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties, and is also used as an astringent to reduce swelling and bleeding.

Spotted Cat's-ear is a versatile plant that can be grown in a variety of ways. It can be used as a ground cover in a rock garden, planted in a wildflower meadow, or grown in a pot. It is a low-maintenance plant that requires little care and can tolerate some neglect.

When planting Spotted Cat's-ear, it is important to choose a location that has good drainage and is in full sun to partial shade. The plant can grow in a range of soil types, but prefers soil that is moist and rich in organic matter. It is also important to note that Spotted Cat's-ear is an aggressive grower and can spread quickly, so it is best to plant it in a controlled area or to use it as a ground cover in a rock garden where it can be contained.

Once established, Spotted Cat's-ear is easy to care for and will bloom profusely every year. The plant is drought-tolerant and does not need to be watered regularly. It can be pruned back after flowering to control its spread and to promote new growth.

In conclusion, Spotted Cat's-ear is a beautiful and versatile plant that is easy to grow and maintain. Its attractive yellow flowers, attractive leaves, and benefits to pollinators make it a great choice for gardeners and wildflower enthusiasts. Whether you are planting it in a garden, a wildflower meadow, or a pot, Spotted Cat's-ear is sure to bring a splash of color and life to your outdoor space.

In addition to its ornamental and medicinal uses, Spotted Cat's-ear has also been used as a food source for livestock. Its leaves and stems are edible and are high in protein and minerals, making it a valuable feed for animals. In some parts of the world, it is grown as a forage crop for livestock and is used as a source of hay.

However, despite its many benefits, Spotted Cat's-ear can also be considered an invasive species in some areas. It is known to spread quickly and can displace native plants, leading to a decline in biodiversity. It is also toxic to some livestock and can cause health problems if consumed in large quantities.

Therefore, it is important to consider the potential impact of Spotted Cat's-ear on local ecosystems before planting it in the wild. If you are planting it in a garden or a controlled area, it is important to monitor its growth and to take steps to prevent it from spreading into the surrounding area.

In conclusion, Spotted Cat's-ear is a versatile and attractive wild plant with many uses, but it is important to consider its potential impact on local ecosystems before planting it. When grown and managed responsibly, it can be a valuable addition to gardens and wildflower meadows and can provide benefits to pollinators and livestock.


Spotted Cat's-ear filmed at Scout Scar on the 26th May 2023.


Music credits
Living Voyage by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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