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Stinking Hawksbeard

Crepis foetida

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 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, Tall Fleabane, Tall Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Tansy, Thin-leaved Sunflower, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tuberous Thistle, Tyneside Leopardplant, Viper's Grass, Wall Lettuce, Welsh Groundsel, Welted Thistle, 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:
Annual or Biennial
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Grassland, meadows, roadsides, seaside.

Yellow, many petals
Golden yellow flower clusters with up to 10 flowerheads per cluster. The flowerheads are dandelion-like in appearance. The flowers are drooping while in bud.
The fruit is an achene with white pappus.
Very hairy leaves. The leaves are sharply toothed and clasp their stems. The end lobes of the leaves are diamond-shaped.
Stinking Hawksbeard smells strongly of bitter almonds.
Other Names:
Fetid Hawksbeard.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Crepis foetida, also known as Stinking Hawksbeard or Fetid Hawksbeard, is a species of perennial herb in the Asteraceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and is typically found in grassland habitats such as meadows, pastures, and roadsides. 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. The plant has a distinct, unpleasant smell that can be offensive to some people. The stem and leaves of the plant are covered in fine white hair giving it a hairy appearance. It is not commonly cultivated, but it is sometimes used as an ornamental plant. The plant is known to have medicinal properties and has been used in traditional medicine as a diuretic, laxative, and to treat skin diseases.


Stinking Hawksbeard, or Crepis foetida, is a member of the Asteraceae family of flowering plants, and it is native to many parts of Europe and Asia. It is a common weed that can be found in fields, roadsides, and waste places, and it is easily recognizable by its bright yellow flowers and unpleasant odor.

Appearance and Characteristics

Stinking Hawksbeard is an annual or biennial plant that can grow up to one meter tall. Its leaves are alternate, with a lanceolate shape and a toothed margin. The plant's stem is erect, branching, and covered with glandular hairs that give off an unpleasant odor when crushed. The flowers are bright yellow, with 13 to 21 petals and a diameter of 1.5 to 3 cm. They bloom from June to September and are followed by fruits that contain seeds with a pappus that allows them to be dispersed by the wind.

Distribution and Habitat

Stinking Hawksbeard is native to Europe and Asia and has been introduced to North America, where it has become naturalized in many regions. It is a common weed in fields, pastures, roadsides, and disturbed areas, and it can grow in a wide range of soil types and moisture levels.

Ecological and Economic Impacts

Stinking Hawksbeard is considered a noxious weed in many regions due to its ability to outcompete native plant species and reduce the productivity of agricultural fields. The plant contains chemicals that can be toxic to livestock if ingested in large quantities, and its unpleasant odor can make it unpalatable to grazing animals.

However, Stinking Hawksbeard also has some ecological benefits. Its bright yellow flowers provide food for pollinators such as bees and butterflies, and its seeds can be a food source for birds.

Control Measures

Stinking Hawksbeard can be controlled through a combination of cultural, mechanical, and chemical methods. Cultural methods include preventing seed production by mowing or grazing before flowering, and promoting the growth of desirable plants to outcompete the weed. Mechanical methods include hand-pulling, hoeing, and tilling, although these can be labor-intensive and may not be practical in large infestations. Chemical control methods include the use of herbicides, which should be applied according to label directions and with caution to avoid harming non-target plants and animals.

In conclusion, Stinking Hawksbeard is a common and easily recognizable weed that can have both negative and positive impacts on the environment. While it can be a nuisance in agricultural fields and other areas, it also provides important ecological benefits as a food source for pollinators and birds. Effective control measures are available for managing Stinking Hawksbeard, and these should be tailored to the specific situation and goals of the landowner or manager.

More Information

Stinking Hawksbeard (Crepis foetida) is an interesting plant with a long history of use in traditional medicine. The plant contains several bioactive compounds, including sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids, and alkaloids, which have been studied for their potential medicinal properties.

In traditional medicine, Stinking Hawksbeard has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections, digestive disorders, and skin conditions. Some studies have suggested that the plant's extracts may have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects, although more research is needed to confirm these findings and determine their clinical significance.

In addition to its potential medicinal properties, Stinking Hawksbeard has also been used as a source of food and fiber. The plant's young leaves and stems can be eaten raw or cooked, and the roots can be roasted and ground into a coffee substitute. The fibers from the plant's stem have been used to make rope, paper, and other products.

Stinking Hawksbeard, like many other weed species, can be difficult to manage and control, especially in large infestations. In addition to the control measures mentioned earlier, there are also some biological control methods that have been studied for managing this plant.

Biological control involves the use of natural enemies, such as insects or pathogens, to reduce the population of a target weed species. In the case of Stinking Hawksbeard, several insect species have been identified as potential biocontrol agents, including a stem-boring weevil (Mogulones crucifer), a seed-feeding weevil (Larinus minutus), and a root-feeding fly (Hylemya crepivora). These insects are all native to Europe, where they naturally feed on Stinking Hawksbeard, and have been tested for their efficacy and safety as biocontrol agents in North America and other regions.

While biological control can be an effective and environmentally-friendly method for managing weed populations, it is important to carefully evaluate the potential risks and benefits before introducing a new species into an ecosystem. The use of biocontrol agents must be carefully regulated and monitored to ensure that they do not cause unintended harm to non-target species or ecosystems.

In conclusion, Stinking Hawksbeard is a common and often problematic weed that can have ecological, cultural, and medicinal significance. Effective management and control strategies are available, including cultural, mechanical, chemical, and biological methods, and the choice of method should be based on the specific situation and goals of the landowner or manager. Further research is needed to fully understand the plant's properties and potential uses, as well as the ecological impacts of different control methods, in order to develop sustainable and effective strategies for managing this and other weed species.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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