Catsear (Hypochaeris radicata
) is an erect perennial which looks very similar to dandelion (Taraxacum officinale
). It is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa but has been introduced to other regions worldwide. Catsear is most commonly found growing on sandy or gravely soils.
Catsear is palatable to horses, and as such they will seek it out when found growing in horse pastures. Catsear's leaves are also more distinctly lobed than dandelion.
Catsear Toxic Components to Horses
Catsear has been associated with horses developing Australian stringhalt
, characterized by spasmodic hyperflexion of one of both hind legs. Catsear looks similar to common dandelion, and has a rosette of basal leaves and multiple branching flower stems.
What Catsear Looks Like
- Young plants: Seedlings grow initially out of a rosette of basal leaves.
- Stem: 8 to 16 inches tall, smooth and often branched, with solitary flower heads at the tips of each branch. Stems contain a milky sap and may contain a couple scattered, small, leaf-like bracts along the stem.
- Leaves:Basal rosette with lance-shaped, irregular lobes. The leaf surfaces and margins are covered with coarse hairs.
- Flowers: Single, flat, dandelion-like flower head at the end of each branch, which contains many individual, petal-like flowers. Flowers can bloom anytime between May until October, however they are most commonly seen blooming in September.
- Fruit: Narrow, red-brown, spindle-shaped fruits which contain a single seed.
- Root system: Deep, fibrous root system with enlarged roots that look like taproots.