Hieracium caespitosum (Meadow Hawkweed)

Plant Info
Also known as: Yellow King-devil, Field Hawkweed
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
  • Invasive - ERADICATE!
Habitat:sun; open fields, roadsides, disturbed soil, high grade prairie
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

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

[photo of flowers] A cluster of 5 to 25 dandelion-like flowers at the top of the stem, often compact in a tight, flattish cluster but may also be more loosely arranged, the flowers long-stalked. Flowers are yellow, about ½ inch diameter with 25 to 50 rays (petals).

[photo of phyllaries] The bracts (phyllaries) surrounding the base of the flower are about 1/3 inch (9 mm) long and covered in a mix of tiny star-shaped hairs, long, spreading hairs, short glandular hairs and longer black hairs that may or may not be gland-tipped. Flower stalks are similarly hairy.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of basal leaves] Leaves are mostly basal, 2 to 10 inches (to 25 cm) long, 3/8 to 1+ inch (1 to 3 cm) wide, lance-elliptic to narrowly spatula-shaped, blunt or pointed at the tip, toothless or minutely toothed along the edges. Stem leaves are smaller, mostly broadest above the middle and typically number 1 to 3 but sometimes more or absent altogether. Both leaf surfaces are dull, covered in star-shaped hairs, the upper surfaced mixed with sparser long, white hairs, the lower with long white hairs mostly along the midvein.

[close-up of stem hairs] Flowering stems are single, unbranched and covered in a mix of star-shaped hairs, long spreading hairs, and shorter glandular hairs. Glandular hairs are more numerous on the upper stem, long spreading hairs usually more numerous on the lower stem. Short, stout rhizomes and long stolons (runners) may be present.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a dark seed with a tuft of dull white hair to carry it off in the wind.


Meadow Hawkweed and other non-native weedy Hawkweed species have greatly expanded in all directions from the Duluth area over the past 30+ years. Most prevalent in disturbed sites, they frequently grow together and all have shown to readily invade high grade habitat. Sadly, I don't think there is any putting this horse back in the barn, but stop it from spreading if you can.

Meadow Hawkweed is distinguished by the combination of: stems covered in a mix of star-shaped hairs, long spreading hairs and glandular hairs; leaves covered in a mix of star-shaped hairs and long spreading hairs; mostly basal leaves usually with only 1 to 3 stem leaves; 5 to 25 yellow dandelion-type flowers often in a compact flattish cluster but can also be more open and loose; phyllaries covered in a mix of star-shaped hairs, long spreading hairs and black glandular hairs; white hairs on the seeds.

Of the related similar species, Glaucous King-devil (Hieracium piloselloides) is distinguished by leaves that lack star-shaped hairs, stem leaves may be hairy only around the edge and the mid-vein on the underside, and basal leaves tend to be smaller (max 4 inches long) though there is overlap. Mouse-ear Hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella) is a smaller plant, usually less than a foot tall with a single flower, and leaves less than 4 inches long. Orange Hawkweed (H. aurantiacum) differs most obviously by the flower color, but also tends to be more densely covered in long, spreading hairs and usually has only basal leaves, no stem leaves; when flowers are not present it's very difficult to distinguish it from Meadow Hawkweed. The weedy Sowthistles (Sonchus spp.) also have yellow dandelion-type flowers but are much larger and the leaf shape is very different: lobed and/or toothy and sometimes clasping. Narrow-leaf Hawksbeard (Crepis tectorum) is another weed with yellow dandelion-type flowers but lacks the long spreading and glandular hairs, and stem leaves are more numerous and variable in shape, often linear.

There are hundreds of reports of this species on iNaturalist, a number of which cannot be verified from the posted images. A common mis-identification is confusing it with Hieracium umbellatum, which is easily distinguished by the numerous stem leaves that are irregularly toothy, lack of basal leaves, and brown hairs on the seeds. A more similar native is Hieracium longipilum, which has broader basal leaves, longer, denser hairs on leaves and stems, brown hairs on seeds, and is frequently 3 to 4 feet tall.

Note that the trend seems to be switching Hieracium species that (mostly) lack stem leaves over to genus Pilosella; it includes all of the weedy non-natives, but this change hasn't been adopted in Minnesota (yet).

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Aitkin, Anoka and Cook counties.


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

Posted by: Amber, SE of Bemidji
on: 2012-09-12 12:54:33

I think we have this in our yard!

Posted by: Lynn D Stangel - Cass Lake
on: 2020-06-10 18:49:17

this is the first year I have ever seen it. Have several plants in my yard on a hillside down to the pond.

Posted by: Gary - Carlton County
on: 2020-06-23 15:40:03

Common in old fields and along roadsides. It is in my long abandoned hayfield in spots. I have seen bumblebees and yellow swallowtail butterflies nectaring at it.

Posted by: Carl Greiner - Aitkin County (Palisade).
on: 2023-05-04 16:07:55

In old disturbed field (last cleared in 1950s but mowed each year usually in fall). Hot, dry sunny in summer.

Posted by: Stephanie Mirocha - Crow Wing County
on: 2023-06-13 21:11:58

It is growing in the driveway of our forested cabin lot, which we will be mowing soon.

Posted by: John Sumption - Northern Cass County--Longville
on: 2023-06-14 20:02:48

Yellow and Orange Hawkweed have exploded this year in well established turf, hayfields, and pastures. My lawn and neighbors hayfield are covered with it! Wind-born seeding??

Posted by: Katherine Koenen - Aitkin
on: 2023-06-16 21:22:58

We've had a large bloom on our land that we've never seen before under a cluster of crabapple trees in Aitkin

Posted by: Luciearl - Lake Shore
on: 2024-06-12 19:00:51

We are rewilding the property next door, so quit mowing. Was suspicious this was invasive, but was hoping it was a native hawkweed. They were just beginning to bloom and easily pulled up at the base. I also pulled all the buds off the ones on the trail across the road.

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