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Fox and Cubs

Pilosella aurantiaca

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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, 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 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:
40 centimetres tall
Bogs, fields, gardens, grassland, meadows, roadsides, rocky places, saltmarshes, sand dunes, sea cliffs, wasteland, woodland.

Orange, many petals
Fox-and-Cubs is a vibrant wildflower native to Europe and naturalized in the UK. The plant features striking orange to red-orange flowers that bear a distinctive resemblance to a fox's ear and cub's paw. These vivid blooms adorn lance-shaped leaves with a hairy texture. Growing to a height of 20 to 50 centimetres, Fox-and-Cubs thrives in meadows, grasslands, and disturbed areas, displaying its floral beauty from late spring to early autumn. Despite its invasiveness in some regions, its unique appearance and adaptability make it an eye-catching addition to the UK's natural landscape.
Fox-and-Cubs does not produce traditional fruits as it primarily reproduces through seeds and stolons (horizontal stems). The plant is known for its vibrant orange to red-orange flowers rather than fruit-bearing structures. The lance-shaped leaves and distinctive blooms contribute to the visual appeal of Fox-and-Cubs, making it a noteworthy wildflower in the UK's natural habitats.
The leaves of Fox-and-Cubs are lance-shaped with a hairy texture. These foliage features are characteristic of the plant, contributing to its overall appearance. The leaves are arranged in a manner that complements the vibrant orange to red-orange flowers, adding to the visual allure of Fox-and-Cubs. In the UK, where the plant is native and naturalized, these hairy, lance-shaped leaves are a distinctive aspect of its botanical profile.
Fox-and-Cubs is not particularly known for having a distinctive aroma. Wildflowers, including Fox-and-Cubs, are often admired for their visual appeal rather than for any notable fragrance. The plant is appreciated for its vibrant orange to red-orange flowers and lance-shaped leaves, contributing to its overall aesthetic charm. In the UK, where it is native and naturalized, Fox-and-Cubs is more recognized for its visual impact in natural landscapes rather than any significant aromatic qualities.
Other Names:
Devil's Paintbrush, Flora's Paintbrush, Golden Mouse-ear, Grim-the-collier, Grimy Coalminer, King-devil, Missionary Weed, Orange Hawkweed, Orange-flowered Hawkweed, Red Daisy, Tawny Hawkweed.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Pilosella aurantiaca, also known as Fox-and-Cubs, is a perennial herb that belongs to the family Asteraceae. It is native to Europe, but can be found in other parts of the world as well, including North America, as an introduced species. The plant is known for its distinctive orange or yellow flower heads, which bloom in the summer and early fall. The leaves are typically hairy and form a rosette at the base of the plant. The species name "aurantiaca" is a Latin adjective that means "orange," referring to the color of the flowers.

Pilosella aurantiaca is a hardy plant and can grow in a variety of soil types and conditions, including rocky or sandy soils. It is also tolerant of drought and can grow in full sun or partial shade.

The plant has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Its leaves and flowers have been used to make tea, which is said to have diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It is also believed to have anti-cancer properties and has been used as a natural remedy for blood sugar control and for treating high blood pressure. However, It is important to note that the safety and effectiveness of using Pilosella aurantiaca for medicinal purposes have not been scientifically established. Self-treatment or self-diagnosis with any kind of herbal remedies can be harmful in some cases. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional before starting any new treatment program.


Fox and cubs, also known as Pilosella aurantiaca, is a beautiful and hardy perennial plant that is native to Europe but has been naturalized in many parts of North America. With its bright orange-red flowers and distinctive hairy leaves, fox and cubs is a popular addition to many gardens and landscapes.

The name "fox and cubs" is derived from the appearance of the plant's flowers, which are small and orange-red, and surrounded by a rosette of hairy leaves that resemble a fox's ear. The plant is also commonly referred to as "orange hawkweed" or "devil's paintbrush."

Fox and cubs typically blooms from early summer to early fall, producing clusters of small, daisy-like flowers on tall, slender stems that can grow up to 18 inches in height. The flowers are followed by seed heads that resemble miniature pine cones and contain many small seeds that are dispersed by the wind.

Fox and cubs is a hardy plant that thrives in a variety of soil types and can tolerate both dry and moist conditions. It prefers full sun to partial shade and is often found growing in open meadows, rocky slopes, and along roadsides.

Despite its beauty, fox and cubs can be an invasive species in some areas, particularly in North America where it has escaped cultivation and spread rapidly. It can outcompete native vegetation and disrupt ecosystems, so it is important to check with local authorities before planting it in a garden or landscape.

Fox and cubs has a long history of medicinal use in Europe, where it was traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections, digestive issues, and skin conditions. Its leaves were also used to make a tea that was believed to promote relaxation and aid in sleep.

In addition to its medicinal properties, fox and cubs is also valued for its aesthetic qualities and is often used in wildflower gardens, rock gardens, and as a border plant. Its bright orange-red flowers add a pop of color to any landscape, and its hardiness and low maintenance make it a popular choice for novice gardeners and experienced landscapers alike.

Fox and cubs is a member of the Asteraceae family, which also includes other popular garden flowers such as daisies, sunflowers, and asters. It is an herbaceous perennial, meaning that it dies back to the ground each year and reemerges in the spring from its root system.

One of the unique features of fox and cubs is its hairy leaves, which are covered in fine white hairs that give them a fuzzy appearance. This adaptation helps the plant to retain moisture and protect itself from herbivores.

While fox and cubs can be invasive in some areas, it is also an important source of nectar for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Its bright orange-red flowers are particularly attractive to bees, which are essential for pollinating many of our food crops.

If you are considering planting fox and cubs in your garden or landscape, it is important to be aware of its potential to spread and take over. To prevent this, you can deadhead the spent flowers before they can form seed heads, or you can plant it in a container to contain its growth.

Fox and cubs is relatively easy to propagate, making it a popular choice for gardeners who want to multiply their plants. It can be propagated through division, which involves digging up the plant and separating it into smaller clumps, each with its own root system. These smaller clumps can then be replanted in a new location or shared with friends.

Fox and cubs can also be propagated through seeds, which can be collected from the plant's seed heads once they have dried out and turned brown. The seeds should be sown in the fall or early spring, and will typically germinate within a few weeks if kept moist and warm.

In addition to its ornamental and medicinal uses, fox and cubs has also been used in traditional folklore and mythology. In Celtic mythology, it was believed to have magical powers and was used in spells and charms to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. In some cultures, it was also used as a symbol of protection and was planted around homes and gardens to keep them safe from harm.

In modern times, fox and cubs has become a popular subject for artists and photographers, who are drawn to its bright colors and distinctive appearance. It has also been featured in literature and poetry, with writers using its unique qualities to symbolize everything from resilience and adaptability to beauty and strength.

While fox and cubs is generally a low-maintenance plant, it does require some care to thrive. It prefers well-draining soil and should be watered regularly, particularly during periods of drought. In addition, it may benefit from a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.

To keep fox and cubs looking its best, it is important to deadhead spent flowers regularly to prevent the plant from putting energy into producing seed heads instead of new blooms. It is also a good idea to remove any yellowing or damaged leaves to keep the plant looking tidy and healthy.

In terms of pests and diseases, fox and cubs is generally resistant to most common garden pests and diseases. However, it may be susceptible to root rot if the soil is too wet or if drainage is poor. To prevent this, make sure to plant fox and cubs in well-draining soil and avoid overwatering.

30 Facts About Fox and Cubs

  1. Scientific Name: Fox-and-Cubs is scientifically known as Pilosella aurantiaca.
  2. Common Names: Other common names for Fox-and-Cubs include Orange Hawkweed and Devil's Paintbrush.
  3. Appearance: The plant has bright orange to red-orange flowers with a distinct resemblance to a fox's ear and cub's paw.
  4. Family: Fox-and-Cubs belongs to the Asteraceae family.
  5. Origin: Native to Europe, it has been introduced to various parts of the world, including North America and Australia.
  6. Invasive Species: Fox-and-Cubs is considered invasive in some regions due to its aggressive spread.
  7. Habitat: It thrives in meadows, grasslands, and disturbed areas, often colonizing open spaces.
  8. Height: The plant typically grows to a height of 20 to 50 centimeters.
  9. Leaves: The leaves are lance-shaped with a hairy texture.
  10. Flowering Season: Fox-and-Cubs blooms from late spring to early autumn.
  11. Reproduction: It reproduces both by seeds and through horizontal stems called stolons.
  12. Ecological Impact: The invasive nature of Fox-and-Cubs can outcompete native plant species and disrupt local ecosystems.
  13. Wildlife Interaction: While it attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies, it may not provide the same benefits to local wildlife as native plants.
  14. Adaptability: Fox-and-Cubs can thrive in a variety of soil types and is well-adapted to different environmental conditions.
  15. Cultural Significance: It has cultural significance in some regions, often featured in folklore and traditional stories.
  16. Herbal Use: Historically, Fox-and-Cubs has been used in herbal medicine for various purposes, although caution is advised due to potential toxicity.
  17. Aphid Attraction: The plant is known to attract aphids, which can be both beneficial and detrimental to the surrounding flora.
  18. Gardening: In controlled garden environments, Fox-and-Cubs can be grown for its ornamental value.
  19. Sun Requirements: Prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade.
  20. Soil Preference: Well-drained soil is ideal for Fox-and-Cubs.
  21. Pet Toxicity: Parts of the plant are considered toxic to pets if ingested.
  22. Conservation Concerns: In regions where Fox-and-Cubs is invasive, efforts may be made to control its spread to protect native plant species.
  23. Seed Dispersal: The plant's seeds can be dispersed by wind, animals, and human activities.
  24. Management Strategies: Controlling Fox-and-Cubs often involves a combination of mechanical, chemical, and cultural methods.
  25. Unique Coloration: The vibrant orange color of the flowers makes Fox-and-Cubs stand out in natural landscapes.
  26. Drought Tolerance: It exhibits some level of drought tolerance, making it resilient in varying weather conditions.
  27. Fire Adaptation: Fox-and-Cubs can tolerate fire, and its seeds may even benefit from the heat for germination.
  28. Naturalized Regions: Beyond its native range, Fox-and-Cubs has become naturalized in many parts of the world.
  29. Erosion Control: Its ability to form dense colonies can contribute to soil stabilization and erosion control.
  30. Botanical Classification: Fox-and-Cubs was previously classified under the genus Hieracium before being reclassified as Pilosella.


Video 1: Fox and Cubs filmed in Adlington, Lancashire on the 14th June 2022.

Video 2: Fox-and-cubs filmed at the following locations:
  • Rivington, Lancashire: 11th June 2023
  • Bourton-on-the-water, Gloucestershire: 24th June 2023
  • Clapton-on-the-hill, Gloucestershire: 26th June 2023

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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