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Lesser Hawkbit

Leontodon saxatilis

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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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 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 Cat's-ear, 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
Gardens, grassland, moorland, mountains, rocky places, sand dunes.

Yellow, many petals
Solitary bright yellow flowers, up to 2cm wide. The outer florets are violet-tinted beneath. The flowers of the similar looking Rough Hawkbit (Leontodon hispidus) are reddish beneath.
There are 2 types of fruit. The first is the outer achene - a cylindrical, non-beaked, pale brown achene with a pappus of scales. Up to 4mm in length. The second type is the inner achene - this is short-beaked and reaches 5mm in length. It has a pappus (feathery bristles) of 2 rows.
A short-lived perennial plant with bluntly lobed, oblong leaves in a basal rosette. The leaves can be either hairy or hairless. The hairs are forked. The similar looking Autumn Hawkbit (Leontodon autumnalis) and Common Cat's-ear (Hypochaeris radicata) have simple hairs.
Other Names:
Hairy Hawkbit, Little Hawkbit, Rocky Hawkbit.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Leontodon saxatilis, also known as rocky hawkbit, is a species of perennial herb in the Asteraceae family. It is native to Europe and North Africa and is typically found in rocky or stony habitats, such as hillsides, cliffs and rocky outcrops. It has a rosette of basal leaves and produces a tall stem with small, yellow composite flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer. The flowers are arranged in a dense, cylindrical head, and the fruit is an achene. The plant is hardy and easy to grow, it can tolerate poor soils and dry conditions. It is not commonly cultivated, but it is sometimes used as an ornamental plant.


Lesser Hawkbit, scientifically known as Leontodon saxatilis, is a perennial herbaceous plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and it can also be found in North America, where it was introduced as an ornamental plant.

Lesser Hawkbit grows up to 30 cm in height, and it has a basal rosette of leaves that are deeply lobed and toothed. The leaves are hairy and slightly glossy, and they can range from 2 to 15 cm in length. The flowers of Lesser Hawkbit are yellow and daisy-like, with numerous small petals arranged in a single row around a central disk. The flowers bloom from May to October and are pollinated by insects.

Lesser Hawkbit is a common plant in dry grasslands, heaths, and rocky habitats. It can grow in a wide range of soil types, from acidic to alkaline, and it prefers full sun or partial shade. Lesser Hawkbit is also a valuable food source for pollinators and wildlife, as its flowers provide nectar and its leaves are eaten by several species of moths and butterflies.

In traditional medicine, Lesser Hawkbit has been used for its diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties. Its leaves and roots are rich in compounds such as flavonoids, tannins, and sesquiterpene lactones, which are believed to have medicinal benefits. However, it is important to note that self-medication with any plant should always be done with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Lesser Hawkbit can also be used as an edible plant, and its young leaves can be added to salads or cooked as a vegetable. However, it is important to be careful when foraging for edible plants, as some can be poisonous and may cause harm if ingested.

Lesser Hawkbit is a beautiful and versatile plant that has many uses, both medicinal and culinary. Its hardiness and adaptability make it a valuable addition to any garden or natural habitat, and its presence is a sign of a healthy and diverse ecosystem.

Lesser Hawkbit, like many other wildflowers, has a rich cultural history. In traditional European folklore, it was believed that Lesser Hawkbit had the power to heal wounds and protect against evil spirits. It was also used as a divinatory tool, with the direction of the flower's seed head being used to predict the weather or the outcome of a situation.

Today, Lesser Hawkbit is sometimes used in herbal remedies for various ailments such as digestive problems, liver disorders, and skin conditions. Its diuretic properties have also made it a popular ingredient in some weight loss supplements.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Lesser Hawkbit is a popular plant for landscaping and restoration projects. It is often used in wildflower meadows, rock gardens, and other naturalistic settings. Its adaptability and tolerance of poor soil make it a good choice for areas that may not support other types of plants.

One of the benefits of Lesser Hawkbit is its ability to provide food and habitat for a variety of wildlife. The nectar from its flowers attracts bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, while the seeds provide food for birds and small mammals.

However, like many wildflowers, Lesser Hawkbit can also become invasive in certain areas. It is important to check with local authorities before planting it, as it may compete with native species and disrupt the ecosystem.

Another interesting aspect of Lesser Hawkbit is its use in traditional European cuisine. The young leaves of the plant have a slightly bitter flavor that can add depth to salads, soups, and stews. They can also be cooked as a vegetable and used as a substitute for spinach or other leafy greens. In some regions of Europe, Lesser Hawkbit leaves are even used to make tea.

Lesser Hawkbit is also sometimes used in natural dyes. The yellow flowers can be boiled to create a vibrant yellow dye that can be used to color fabric, yarn, or other materials.

In terms of cultivation, Lesser Hawkbit is relatively easy to grow from seed. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. It can be sown in the spring or fall, and it will usually self-seed and spread on its own. However, as mentioned earlier, it is important to be cautious when planting Lesser Hawkbit in areas where it may become invasive.

Overall, Lesser Hawkbit is a versatile and valuable plant that has been used for a variety of purposes throughout history. Its beauty, adaptability, and usefulness make it a plant that is well worth cultivating and appreciating. Whether used for its medicinal properties, culinary uses, or landscaping potential, Lesser Hawkbit is a plant that can enhance the natural world and benefit both people and wildlife.

Facts about Lesser Hawkbit

Here are some interesting facts about Lesser Hawkbit:

  • The name "hawkbit" comes from the belief that hawks would use the plant's leaves to sharpen their beaks.
  • The leaves of Lesser Hawkbit are sometimes used in traditional medicine as a natural remedy for gallstones.
  • In some cultures, Lesser Hawkbit is used as a symbol of hope and resilience in the face of adversity.
  • The seeds of Lesser Hawkbit are dispersed by wind and can travel up to several meters from the plant.

In summary, Lesser Hawkbit is a perennial herbaceous plant that is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It has a basal rosette of deeply lobed and toothed leaves and yellow daisy-like flowers that bloom from May to October. Lesser Hawkbit is a valuable food source for pollinators and wildlife, and it has been used for medicinal and culinary purposes throughout history. Its adaptability and hardiness make it a popular choice for landscaping and restoration projects, but it is important to be cautious when planting it in areas where it may become invasive. Overall, Lesser Hawkbit is a fascinating and versatile plant that has much to offer both people and the natural world.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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