Monday, January 7, 2013

Yellow hawksbeard

My two page spread in the small sketchbook from The Sketchbook Project.

Even though I like to learn about the natural world around me through drawing and writing, I don’t recommend that anyone encourage this particular weedy nuisance. A common volunteer in lawns and disturbed areas throughout the southeastern United States (and Hawaii!), yellow hawksbeard (Youngia japonica, synonym Crepis japonica) is a dainty and graceful version of the dandelion.

Each petal has five notches on the end.
Its lobed basal leaves radiate outwards above a sturdy root, the stems emerging to support panicles of small clear-yellow composite flowers. It is native to Southeast Asia and has naturalized throughout many countries, often becoming locally invasive.

This weed has many common names, often-seen are oriental false hawksbeard and Japanese hawkweed. In all of my exploring, I haven’t come across any explanations of the inclusion of the word “hawk” in these names. Is it because of the jagged or notched edges of the petals – perhaps they look like the talons of a hawk? And where does the word “beard” come into play? A mystery I’d love to solve.

According to Practical, yellow hawksbeard was used historically to treat snakebite and boils. Recent research shows it to have antiviral and anticancer properties. The young leaves are edible, eaten raw or cooked like spinach. You can read more about its edibility at Eat the

I picked this weedy interloper to sketch because of its beauty and daintiness. I have a fondness for plants with basal rosettes – I’m always excited to discover a small green mandala in a thicket of grasses! Its one of my entries for the Sketchbook Project booklet I’m trying to complete before the deadline date!

The Sketchbook Project sketchbook,
Pitt Artist pen in black, size XS for the sketch, and S for the text
Kimberly watercolor pencils, Derwent Inktense,
Niji Aquabrush, small size.

Disclaimer: As always, with any foraged wild plants, be absolutely positive of identification before handling or ingesting.

For further reading:
Florida Department of Agriculture