Scorzoneroides autumnalis (Autumn Hawkbit)

Plant Info
Also known as: Fall Dandelion
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; disturbed soil; roadsides, waste places, lawns
Bloom season:August - October
Plant height:4 to 15 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: none MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 7+petals Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers] Solitary yellow dandelion-type flower heads at the tips of branches forking off a central stem, typically 2 to 5 flowers per stem, though larger plants may be further branched. Flowers are ¾ to about 1 inch across with 20 to 30 ray flowers (petals) that are flat, tongue-like (a.k.a. “ligulate”) and have 5 tiny teeth at the tip. Each ray is attached to the fertile flower consisting of fused anthers and stigma/style.

[photo of phyllaries and red-tinged rays] The outer rays are commonly streaked with red on the underside. The bracts (phyllaries) surrounding the base of the flower are in 2 or 3 layers, lance-linear, tapering to a pointed tip, hairless or sparsely covered in woolly hairs. Flower stalks/branches are hairless to sparsely woolly hairy, with scattered scale-like bracts.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaf clump] Leaves form a dense rosette around the base of the plant, lance-oblong or spatula shaped in outline, 2 to 8 inches long and up to 1½ inches wide. Leaves are mostly hairless, sometimes sparsely hairy.

[leaf scan] Edges are variously lobed, ranging from deep cuts with linear segments to shallow, irregular teeth, sometimes nearly smooth. The terminal lobe is rounded to pointed at the tip. Flowering stems are multiple from the base, slender, green or purple tinged, and hairless except near the flowering heads.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

[photo of seed heads] Fruit is a dry seed, reddish to purplish-brown, with a tuft of light brown hairs (pappus) to carry it off in the wind.

[photo of mature seed] Seeds are 4 to 7 mm long, narrowly cylindric to spindle-shaped, the feathery hairs about as long as the seed.


Every fall, residents of Duluth and more so New Duluth (and likely nearby Superior, WI) may notice what looks like a prolific crop of dandelions in their yards and along roadways from August into October. While easy to mistake at a glance, closer inspection reveals a new weedy lawn species spreading throughout the area: Autumn Hawkbit (or Fall Dandelion), formerly known as Leontodon autumnalis. These yellow flowers are generally smaller than our two lawn dandelions (Taraxacum sp.), typically flatter in profile with fewer ray flowers and, unlike the one flower per stalk of dandelions, the central stalk is branched, forking into 2 to 5 branchlets, each with a single flower at the tip. The undersides of the outer ray flowers are commonly distinctly reddish and the seed plume (pappus) is light brown and not stalked, unlike the whitish, stalked pappas of other dandelions. And while the leaves are similarly basal and lance-oblong in shape, the margins can be nearly toothless to deeply lobed with linear segments.

Several references note that it can grow to over 2 feet in height; one may presume the flower stems are fairly heavily branched, but where we've encountered it, it's been little more than 8 inches tall and probably subject to repeated mowings. First collected in the Duluth area in 1995, it has likely been around much longer but just went unnoticed. Like other wind spread weedy species that showed up first in the Duluth area (Hieracium sp. in particular), it can be expected to expand out from the area, especially south into small towns and urban areas due to the abundance of its preferred habitat: the weedy, but overly loved, mown bluegrass lawn. Move over dandelion, there's a new kid in the neighborhood.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in St. Louis County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: gary - Duluth
on: 2020-09-07 18:24:04

There are several lawns along Central Entrance in Duluth where this plant blooms every fall. And it is Superior, WI, too.

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