Species of the Month: October 2018


Autumn Hawkbit Scorzoneroides autumnalis


Many thanks to Charles Hipkin for the below species description. Non-botanists may find it useful to refer to this online glossary for an explanation of some of the below terms.

Autumn Hawkbit is not very similar to the other two common Hawkbits (Leontodon saxatilis and Leontodon hispidus). It almost always has a branched stem, so it usually has several yellow inflorescences (capitula) and it has scale-like bracts on its stem. The other two Hawkbits have a single stem which bears a single inflorescence (like a Dandelion) and they don't have scale-like bracts on their stems. The rosette leaves of Autumn Hawkbit are usually deeply dissected and have simple (not forked) hairs while the other two Hawkbits have rosette leaves with forked hairs. Sometimes, the leaves of Autumn Hawkbit are virtually hairless.

Autumn Hawkbit is more likely to be confused with Smooth Hawk's-beard (Crepis capillaris) or Common Cat's-ear (Hypochoeris radicata), which both have branched stems with several inflorescences. Smooth Hawk's-beard has leaves on its stems, while Autumn Hawkbit and Common Cat's-ear only have small scale-like bracts on their stems. The rosette leaves of Autumn Hawkbit are thinner and much more dissected than the thick, lobed leaves of Common Cat's-ear. More technically, the inflorescence of Common Cat's-ear has pale coloured scales mixed in with the yellow ligules. All three species can be found in flower at the same time, but Autumn Hawkbit is the most abundant yellow-flowered composite at this time of year, particularly in grassy verges.

It is very under recorded and we should expect it to be in every tetrad in South Wales and probably in most of the monads as well.

You can view the Welsh distribution here on Aderyn; more species images can be found on NatureSpot.

If you spot Autumn Hawkbit during October (or at any other time of year), please send us the record, ideally via our Species of the Month form on SEWBReCORD (nb. you will need to be signed into SEWBReCORD to use this link). Instructions on how to submit records are available here.