This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol5-6", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
1. Mouse-ear Hawkweed (Hieracium Pilosella, L.). 2. Wall Lettuce (Lactuca muralis, Gaertn.). 3. Rampion (Campanula Rapunculus, L.). 4. Ivy-leaved Toad Flax (Linaria Cymbalaria, Mill.). 5. Wall Speedwell (Veronica arvensis, L.).
This wild flower has no real aerial stem, the flowering stems being scapes. It is stoloniferous, and except for the scapes prostrate or decumbent. The leaves are stalked, entire, egg-shaped, downy beneath, dark-green, rough, hairy both sides, the offsets branching out from the centre of the leaves and creeping, leafy and stiffly hairy, or with a felt of long stiff hairs, and stellately downy below. In dry weather the leaf rolls up, the downy under side being uppermost.
The flowerheads are pale or sulphur-yellow, the outer ones purple below, the petals fringed and reddish-flecked. The phyllaries are unequal and imbricating. The scapes are one-flowered.
The plant is rarely more than 6 in. high (the scapes). It is in flower from May to July and even later. It is a perennial propagated by division, and worth cultivating.
The flowers open in fine weather between 7 and 8. The capitulum is made up of 42-64 florets, which increase in size centrifugally. The tube is 3-6 mm., and the limb 4-8 mm. The capitulum opens in the sun and measures 20 mm., and being bright lemon-yellow is, though small, conspicuous and attractive to insects. When it is wet the petals close up. Insects' visits are not so abundant, and by means of the involution of the stigmas the plant is self-fertilized. It is visited by Panurgus, Andrena, Halictus, Ceratina, Diphysis, Nomada, Cephns, Bombylius, Helophihis, Holly blue (Cyaniris argiolus), The Mother Shipton (Pieris brassicoe), Large White Butterfly (Euclidia mi); Coleoptera, Leptura livida, Cryptocephalus.
Photo. Flatters & Garnett - Mouse-ear Hawkweed (Hieracium Pilosella, L.)
A cluster-cup fungus Puccinia hieracii attacks the leaves, and it is galled by Cecidomyia pilosella.
Several beetles feed on Hieracia, e.g. Olibrus liquidus, Meligethes umbrosus, M. exilis, Psilothrix nobilis, Cryptocephalus aureolus, C. hypochoeridis; two Hymenoptera, Prosopis masoni, Andrena angustior; Lepidoptera, Pterophora parvidactylus, P. piloselloe; Broad-barred White (Hecatera serena), Melitoea cinxia, Six-spotted Burnet (Zygoena filipenduloe); a Heteropterous insect, Hoplomachus thunbergii; and a fly, Pephritis rural is also feed on it.
Hieracium, Dioscorides, is from the Greek hierax, hawk, because birds of prey were said to improve their sight by its means. Pilosella, Mathiolus, is a diminutive of pilosus, hairy.
This pretty plant has been named Erswort, Fellon-herb, Ling Gowlands, Mouse Ear. The name Spear Hawk is like Hawkweed, of which Gerarde says: "These herbes tooke their name from a Hawke, for they are reported to cleere their sight by conveying the juice heere of into their eies". (See ante.) Another name for it is Devil's Bit. The plant is astringent and was used medicinally in former days.
Essential Specific Characters: 179. Hieracium Pilosella, L. - Stoloniferous, creeping, leaves hairy, entire, scape 1-flowered, leafless, flowerheads yellow or lemon, fruit striate, pappus hairs equal, styles yellow.