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WSU/Pend Oreille Extension introduced the Sense of Place series in 1999, with a focus on local landscape and natural history of Pend Oreille County, Washington. A partnership with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians Natural Resources Department has allowed us to expand this program through EPA funding to include more classes, a newsletter and this website.

The Hawkweeds


Orange (Hieracium aurantiacum), meadow (H. caespitosum) and queen-devil (H. glomeratum) hawkweeds pose a serious risk to our forest community. They are a frequent sight in open areas – carpeting both fields and along roads -- but they also can invade under a closed canopy without disturbance of any kind. Due to their growth habit, they smother native vegetation and can completely alter the forest floor plant community.

Hawkweeds are a perennial of the composite family. Starting as a rosette of basal leaves, a single leafless stalk emerges bearing a panicle of flowerheads composed of ray flowers. Flower color is orange in the orange hawkweed and yellow in the meadow and queen-devil. The involucre bracts are covered with dark hairs. Seeds are small with a pappus that allows them to blow significant distances on the wind. The roots are fibrous and the plants also produce stolons that allow the plant to reproduce vegetatively. This is the characteristic that allows it to spread into such dense mats.

Currently, there are no studies available on the damage hawkweeds cause to our forest resources. Observations tell us of their devastation to native plant communities. We have no information on damage to wildlife. We have observed them grazing on this forb. Anecdotal

evidence has shown it to cause nausea in humans; perhaps it can also in wildlife. What would this do to predator-prey relationships? We also have no information on how the hawkweeds affect reforestation.

We do know that they will interfere with restoration of a healthy native forest plant community.

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