Cats Ears

Hello, I am Cats Ears

Botanical Name

Hypochoeris radicata


Most people confuse me with the true Dandelion! I also have a seed head that you can blow, but its not as big as the true dandelion. As the main imitator of the Dandelion, I am also a broad leaf flatweed. I can grow a dense centre that smothers any plants around me. I also have a deep taproot which keeps me well grounded. My leaves are thicker and hairier than Dandelion leaves but they are still edible. If you want to eat me, pick my leaves when they’re young. Older leaves can be eaten lightly steamed as a spinach alternative.


As a weed, I am great in taking advantage of the poor condition of your soil. I like to grow in soils that are acidic with a pH below 6.5. And I really love soils that are deficient in phosphorous, potassium, calcium and iron. I have a really deep tap root, which makes it hard to dig me out of your lawn. This makes Cats Ears or False Dandelion a much despised weed, despite the good I am doing for your soil and the good I can do in your diet. I have yellow coloured flowers and set lots of seeds from each flower, which I happily disperse throughout your lawn.


I am a beneficial weed, particularly in pastures as sheep and cows love to eat me and I am highly nutritious. I have good levels of vitamin A, C and E as well as the B vitamins. And I’m high in anti-oxidants so I’m good for your health. My deep root may annoy you, but I’m actually working on breaking up the compaction in your soil.


I am best controlled by listening to what I’m telling you about your soil condition! I love growing in soils that are acidic and that are deficient in potassium, calcium, iron and phosphorous, Try adding dolomite or lime to increase the pH of the soil and I won’t be happy. Otherwise try hand weeding. Just make sure you do this after it has rained, otherwise my deep root will be difficult to dig out. Another method is to use a sharp knife and cut my leaves from my root. This allows the roots to keep working on your impacted soil. Add the leaves, minus flower-heads to your compost heap.

I can also be controlled by using a biodynamic pepper ( see Biodynamic Peppers) However, weed peppers work best when combined with a weed tea. Weed teas take the nutrients I have accumulated in my leaves and feed them back to the soil.

If you must spray, use an organic weed killer comprised of vinegar, salt and soap. Other ways of controlling me include using organic herbicides like Slasher and Iron Sulphate which is good for broadleaf weeds. I can also be boiled alive by pouring boiling water on my leaves.