This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
This common Composite is known from Neolithic beds at Redhill, near Edinburgh, so there can be no doubt as to its being native. It is found in the North Temperate Zone from Denmark southwards in Europe, and in the Canaries. In Great Britain Hawk's Beard is found in all parts from Caithness to the south coast. It even ascends to a height of 1350 ft. in Derby. It is found in Ireland and the Channel Islands.
Hawk's Beard is a common weed in many different types of habitat, but perhaps the most certain place in which to search for it is waste ground, where with Groundsel and Shepherd's Purse one is almost certain to find it. It also grows in gardens and along the roadside. It is very frequent along most hedgerows with Nipplewort, and grows commonly on all cultivated ground, in cornfields, etc. It is found as well on wall-tops and the roofs of mud and thatched houses.
Very commonly confused with other Composites, Hawk's Beard may be known by the shape of its flowerheads, small fruits, involucre, and the clasping leaves. The stem is erect, branched, angular, finely furrowed, with radical leaves like the Dandelion.
Narrower, with a purple midrib, clasping stem-leaves, which are acute, toothed, with the inrolled margins and the lobes bent back.
The flowerheads are yellow, numerous, in a downy involucre, with the outer bracts narrow, linear, widely spreading or closely associated, the inner ones smooth within. The fruit is shorter than the pappus, which is silky.
Hawk's Beard is 6 in. to 3 ft. in height. Flowers may be found in June and July. It is an annual, herbaceous, and increased by seeds.
The flowerhead is large and conspicuous, and the plant is visited by many insects. The corolla is ligu-late, bell-shaped, yellow, the florets being herma-phrodite. The stamens are borne on hair-like anther-stalks with the anthers united into a cylinder. The arms of the style are slender, the upper part hairy, and as long as the stamens. The 2 stigmas are turned back. The visitors are Hymenoptera, Pannrgus, Rhophites, Dasypoda, An-drena, Halictus, Diptera, Syrphidae, Eristalis, Melithreptus, Syrphus, Cheilosia, Conopidae, Sicus, Coleoptera, Mordellidae, Mordella.
The white pappus is in many rows, and assists in the dispersal of the fruit by the wind.
Hawk's Beard is addicted to a sand soil, and is more or less strictly a sand-loving plant.
Like other Composites, Hawk's Beard is attacked by a fungus, Puccinia hieracii. A Hymenopterous insect, Halictus vittosulus, is found upon it.
Crepis, Pliny, is from the Greek crepis, a kind of boot; and the second Latin name means green, fresh. It was called Hawkbit because the hawk was supposed to pluck it and smear its eyes with it to improve its vision.
Photo. J. H. Crabtree - Hawk's Beard (Crepis Virens, L.)
Essential Specific Characters:178. Crepis viens, Wallr. - Stem erect, furrowed, glabrous, branched, radical leaves lyrate, stem-leaves linear, sagittate, flower-heads yellow, outer phyllaries linear, inner glabrous inside, fruit shorter than pappus.
Hound's Tongue (Cynoglossum officinale, L.)
This is one of the southern types, not usually found in ancient deposits. To-day it is found in Europe, N. Africa, Siberia, eastward to Asia, and it has been introduced into the United States. In Great Britain it has been found in the Peninsula province, Channel, Thames, Anglia provinces; Severn province; not in Brecon, Radnor, or Cardigan, in S. Wales; Montgomery, in N. Wales; Trent province; Mersey, Humber, Tyne, Lakes provinces, except I. of Man; E. Lowlands, except Peebles, Selkirk, Roxburgh; E. Highlands, except Stirling, S. Perth, Aberdeen, Banff, Elgin, Easterness. It is rare in Ireland.
Hound's Tongue is really a plant of the fields, but is found commonly in waste places. It grows by the sea-coast on sandy dunes. It is to be found surviving on the kitchen-middens of old houses. It is often extensively spread in parks and similar places. Its status at best is that of such plants as Burdock, Borage, Comfrey, Henbane, Deadly Nightshade, and others.
The first Greek name, and its English equivalent, refer to the characteristic shape of the leaves of this plant, which is upright, tall, and leafy, the stem being rarely branched at the top, angular, very downy, with short close hairs, with long root, radical leaves, stalked, egg-shaped to acute, downy with silky, greyish, closely appressed hairs, both sides, the stem-leaves stalkless, lance-shaped, and heart-shaped below.
The reddish, purple-veined flowers are borne in long cymes, on curved-back flower-stalks which are downy and alternate. The calyx lobes are blunt, shiny within. The corolla is half as long as the calyx, and funnel-shaped. The capsules are flat, prickly, and catch in the wool of animals.
The plant is 2 ft.. high. It flowers in June and July, and is biennial, propagated by seeds, and worth a place in the garden.
The corolla is monopetalous, and the mouth is closed by 5 scales, which are purple, swollen above, on the edge of the tube, and half as long as the limb, and perforated. The anthers are below the nectaries which form a roof above, on short anther-stalks, oblong and green. The style is tapered, and not as long as the stamens, which are included. The stigma is blunt and notched. Hound's Tongue is thus adapted to cross-pollination with insect-visits, but self-pollination without.
The nuts are covered with spines or short-hooked prickles which aid in their dispersal by animals.
Hound's Tongue is sometimes a halophyte, living on a saline soil, at others a sand-loving plant, when it is found on sand soil.
Several beetles, Meli-gethes marinus, M. obscurus, Longitarsus anchusae, L. quadriguttatus, Phyllotreta 4 -pustulata, Teinodactyla holsatica, and a fly, Napo-myza lateralis, are found upon it.
Cynoglossum, Dioscorides, is from the Greek, cuon, dog, glossa, tongue, from the form or texture of the leaf. The second name refers to its use in medicine.
Dog's - tongue, Gipsy Flower, Hound's - tongue, Rose Noble, Scald head, are all names bestowed upon it. Turner, to explain the name Hound's Tongue, says: "it is good against the biting of mad doggs ".
It was supposed to have the power to prevent dogs barking at a person if laid beneath their feet, and Gerard says that "wild goats or deer, when they be wounded with arrows, do shake them out by eating of this plant, and heal their wounds". It has a smell of mice. Being astringent it was used in medicine. Hound's Tongue is narcotic. In Chaucer's day the plant was recommended for stuttering. It was held to be antiscorbutic. Cattle refuse it.
Essential Specific Characters:213. Cynoglossum officinale, L. - Stem erect, stout, downy, leaves downy, lower oblong, stalked, upper lanceolate, narrow below, flowers purplish-red, veined, nuts flattened, prickly.
Photo. Flatten & Garnett - Hound's Tongue (Cynoglossum Officinale, L.)