Monday, 30 June 2014

Oak Lane, St Brelade - Part 3


Leontodon is a genus of dandelion-like plants in the family Asteraceae (Compositae), commonly known as hawkbits. The name of the genus, Leontodon, is formed from two Greek words, meaning Lion's tooth, referring to the toothed leaves.

Their English name apparently derives from the mediaeval belief that hawks ate the plant to improve their eyesight. I’ve been so far unable to trace any original sources documents for this.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it was called (by John Ray and others), ‘Hieracium minus præmorsâ radice, “Hawkweed with bitten roots”, Yellow Devil's bit’ (after Devil's bit Scabious). The compressed form “hawkbit” was introduced by James Petiver in 1713.

The earliest mentions of the term “hawkbit” are as follows:

1713   J. Petiver Catalogue. Ray's English. Herbal,   Common Hawkbit, Jagged Hawkbit, etc.
1825   J. E. Smith Eng. Flora III. 351
1843   W. Gaze in Zoologist I. 30   The autumnal hawk~bit and dandelion.
1881   G. Allen Vignettes from Nature xxii,   Some golden heads of the autumnal hawkbit.

Although originally only native to Eurasia and North Africa, some species have since become established in other countries, including the United States and New Zealand.

Yellow dandelion-type flowers can be difficult to tell apart, a situation not helped by three of the genera having common names that start with hawk, namely, hawkweeds, hawksbeards and hawkbits.

Rough hawkbit is a short, grassland perennial with a very hairy stem that swells slightly at the top. The solitary flowers, which are in bloom from late May to October, are a rich golden yellow with the outer florets often reddish or orange and the bracts behind the flower appearing very shaggy.

All the Hawkweeds abound in honey and have a sweet honey-like smell when expanded in the full sunshine.


The Rough Hawkbit has been used medicinally in the same manner as the Hawkweeds and the Dandelion, for its action on the kidneys and as a remedy for jaundice and dropsy, and is still used for its diuretic qualities in country districts in Ireland.

Rough Hawkbit was used by traditional herbalists to treat jaundice, and the roots used to be roasted and ground as a substitute for coffee. The young foliage can add flavour and texture to a salad.

En Jèrriais:

pîssenliet d'rue / pîssenliet dé r'lié
i.e road dandelion, relief dandelion

Oxford English Dictionary


  1. En Jèrriais:

    pîssenliet d'rue / pîssenliet dé r'lié
    i.e road dandelion, relief dandelion

  2. In case anyone's interested - and not already aware of it - the Dictionnaithe Angliais-Jèrriais contains an appendix of botanical Latin names listed with Jèrriais names (common English names of plants are listed in the body of the dictionary)