Monday, May 13, 2013

False Dandelions

The other day I mentioned being stuck in traffic
and passing the time by looking at the wildflowers in the median.
And I had promised to describe an imposter in the mix,
only to be sidetracked by May flowers and Mother's Day.
But here we are.
The imposter I spoke of is the catsear or false dandelion.

I have always been fooled by the catsear's flower head;
I identified it as some kind of dandelion because of its bright yellow blossoms,
which are very dandelion-like.
But the catsear's foot-high branching stem
let me know it wasn't a common dandelion.

A web site called Weed Alert,,
identifies the catsear as a member of the aster family
and says they prefer sandy or gravel-rich soils.
We have plenty of sand here, so it's easy to see why
catsear makes itself at home.

The web site Wildflowers of Strathclyde Park
in the United Kingdom says the name catsear
refers to "Cat's ear" because the individual flower petals
are shaped like the ears of a cat.

It's amazing what one can learn when traffic
brings everyone to a full stop.

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