This section is from the book "Wild Flowers East Of The Rockies", by Chester A. Reed. Also available from Amazon: Wild Flowers East Of The Rockies.
Red-Seeded Dandelion (Taraxacum Erythros-Permum) is a smaller species, also European, with more deeply cut leaves, (pinnatifid), and with reddish-brown seeds, whereas those of the preceding species are usually olive-green. Common in dry fields from Me. to Pa. and westward to the Mississippi.
A. Sow Thistle.
Sonchus oleraceus. B. Wild Lettuce. Lactuca canadensis.
Sow Thistle (Sonchus Oleraceus) (European) is still another of the unwelcome weeds that has come across the water and made itself at home here. Unfortunately the government can establish no immigration bureau that can successfully keep out undesirable plant immigrants, for their seeds come over with all kinds of grain and are sown with them. Practically all foreign plants get their start in cultivated fields or as escapes from flower gardens. This species is not a real thistle at all and the name "Sow" is applied rather as a term of derision, signifying spurious or worthless. The specific name, Sonchus, is from the Greek signifying hollow, because the stem of this species is hollow.
The stem is stout, smooth, grooved, hollow and succulent; it attains heights of 1 to 6 feet. The leaves are shaped more like those of the dandelion than a thistle, but are armed with soft spikes. The small, thistle-like flower heads are light yellow; they grow in loose clusters, terminating the branches.
Wild Lettuce (Lactuca Canadensis) is one of the rankest-growing of our native plants. The milky-juiced, branching, smooth stem ranges in height from 3 to 10 feet. The leaves are all very angular, cut, toothed and gouged in all manner of forms. Those near the base of the stem are very large, often attaining lengths of more than a foot. They become smaller and less deeply lobed as they mount the stem, the upper, small ones being almost entire-edged. The small, yellow-rayed flowers are numerous but uninteresting. At maturity they are succeeded by silky beards of down, proceeding from the deep-vase-like involucres.
B. Canada Hawk-weed.
Rattlesnake-Weed (Hieracium Venosum) is commonly found in dry sandy places and in open woods. It can readily be recognized by the tuft of spatulate leaves spreading from the root, each leaf having strong veinings of purple. A fertile imagination likens these veinings to the tongues of rattlesnakes, - hence the common name.
A solitary stem, branching slightly at the top, grows from the center of the tuft of leaves. It is without foliage, save for a few small, bract-like leaves. The flower heads are composed of bright, golden-yellow rays seated in a rather deep involucre; they resemble little dandelions but the rays are fewer in number, giving a more open construction to the flower. Rattlesnake-weed blooms from June until September and ranges from Me. to Minn, and southwards to Ga.