Thursday, June 11, 2015

When It's A Cat's Ear....

When is a dandelion not a dandelion?

When it is Hypochaeris radicata, also known as Flatweed, False Dandelion, and Cat's Ear.  My mom asked me what the yellow flower out in the yard was, and my first answer was "DYC", which stands for "Damn Yellow Composite".  That gives some indication of the, um, "affection" botanists have for that class of flowers, because of the difficulty in narrowing down exactly what it is.  In the end, the Peterson Field Guide to Wildflowers: Northeastern and North-central North America on Google Books ended up being most helpful in coming up with an identification, but Dandelion and Cat's Ear made me confident that I had identified it correctly.

Learning more about it, Cats Ear is quite interesting.  It is edible, although it may be toxic to horses in large quantities.  Unlike dandelion, it is not supposed to be bitter, and like chicory, you can dry and grind the root for a coffee substitute.  I don't drink coffee, so I won't be trying that, and it's a bit late in the season to be eating the leaves, as they are probably quite chewy by now, but I look forward to sampling some next year.

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