The Invading Majesty of Tall Hawkweed

Tall hawkweed, a striking yellow-flowered plant, has a notorious reputation for its invasiveness and tenacity, making it a formidable adversary in the realm of noxious weeds. Standing tall and proud, this dandelion look-alike holds the potential to disrupt the fragile peace of mountain meadows and remote wilderness areas. It closely resembles other hawkweeds on Washington’s noxious weed list, such as the yellow hawkweed and queen-devil hawkweed. However, its impact, if left unchecked, can be far-reaching and devastating.

Championing Control Efforts in King County, Washington

In King County, Washington, the battle against tall hawkweed is mandatory for both public and private landowners. Designated as a Class B Noxious Weed, this plant falls under the meadow hawkweeds category, belonging to the subgenus Pilosella. Since being added to the weed list in 2013, tall hawkweed has become a top priority for the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board. To ensure its containment, it is also listed as a regulated Class B Noxious Weed in King County. The mission is clear: eliminate tall hawkweed and safeguard the natural balance.

A Unique Beauty, Hard to Pin Down

Identifying tall hawkweed is no easy task. Its appearance can often deceive, resembling a tall, leggy dandelion adorned with a loose cluster of small flowers near the apex of its stems. These stems, along with the flowers, possess a slight fuzziness. Break a stem or leaf, and you’ll notice a milky sap oozing, a telltale sign of this charming invader. The majority of the leaves can be found at the base of the plant, with a few scattered along the stems. These narrow leaves display a smooth upper surface and a hairy mid-rib and edges on the underside. Though identification can be challenging due to variations and hybridizations, the noxious weed program and technical flora experts are always at hand to ensure accurate identification.

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A Resilient Perennial, Master of Dispersal

Tall hawkweed, armed with a shallow root system and subterranean creeping stems called rhizomes, can multiply through various means. New plants sprout from buds on the rhizomes and roots, enabling rapid colonization. Unlike its counterparts in the yellow-flowered non-native hawkweeds, tall hawkweed lacks stolons. Instead, it spreads via seeds, root buds, and rhizomes. Its flowering season typically begins in June, reaching its zenith in July, culminating in the setting of seeds by August.

Thriving in harsh environments, tall hawkweed predominantly occupies low-nutrient, coarse soils, establishing its dominance along roadsides and in outwash areas. It has been observed in King, Snohomish, Cowlitz, and Grays Harbor counties, each new sighting a testament to its adaptability and progress.

Tall Hawkweed Infestation

Confronting the Invader Head-on

To combat tall hawkweed effectively, a collective effort is required. If you encounter this plant in King County, Washington, do not hesitate to notify the relevant authorities. The skilled program staff can offer invaluable advice to property owners or public agencies regarding the most efficient removal methods. Swift action is crucial, as preventing its further spread and establishing control is still within reach. Through meticulous mapping of known locations, the noxious weed program aims to stay one step ahead, identifying new infestations in time to suppress them.

Unveiling the Majesty of Tall Hawkweed

Tall Hawkweed Buds
Tall Hawkweed in Bud
Tall Hawkweed Infestation
Tall Hawkweed

Should you come across the resplendent tall hawkweed, remember its beauty hides a dire threat. Together, we can protect the delicate balance of our natural landscapes and ensure a future free from its invasive grasp. Join the fight against tall hawkweed and preserve the untouched majesty of our distinctive wilderness.

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To learn more about the battle against tall hawkweed, visit the Ames Farm Center.