Cat's Ear

Scientific name: Hypochaeris radicata
Abundance: common
What:  young leaves and shoots, roots
How:  raw or cooked, roots roasted for coffee
Where:   disturbed areas, yards, sunny fields
When:   winter/spring/fall
Nutritional Value: minerals and antioxidants

Cluster of Cat's Ear plants (mowed).
CatsEars2

Cluster of Cat's Ears (never mowed).
Cat's Ear

Young Cat's Ear rosette, before flower stalks appear.
CatsEarRosette

Close-up of topside of leaf.
CatsEarLeafFront

Close-up of bottom side of leaf.
CatsEarLeafBack

Close-up of flower bud and stalk.
CatsEarBud

Back and front of flower, along with flower stem. Unlike dandelions, Cat's Ears have multiple flowers and leaves on each stem.
Cat's Ear

Close-up of flower.
CatsEarFlower

Close-up of seeded.
Cat's Ear Seeds

A single plant from root to flower.
Cat's Ear

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
CatsEar

Cat's ear is often mistaken for a dandelion, which it resembles. However, the leaves of cat's ears are less sharply toothed and more asymmetrical than dandelions, as well as having hairs on the top and bottom of the leaf whereas dandelions are hairless. Cat's ears will produce multiple flowers of one main, non-hollow stalk while dandelions produce only one flower per stalk and the dandelion stalk is hollow.

Cat's ear leaves and roots can be used in the same manner as dandelions. The leaves are a bit less bitter than dandelions, making them a good "dilutant" of the bitterness of dandelions, sow thistle, chicory, or other bitter greens. After the cat's ear flowers appear the leaves become somewhat stringy and tough, but tenderize with steaming or boiling.

Cat's ear roots are smaller than dandelion roots, but larger ones can still be steamed then eaten. These roots make an inferior coffee substitute after roasting, but will still work in that manner. Dig up the roots, scrub them clean, roast them in an oven at 425F to the dark color you prefer, coarsely grind them, then using them as regular coffee grounds. The result will be "coffee" in that it will be a dark, somewhat bitter drink.

Cat's Ears have an interesting adaption to urban lawns. After being mowed a few times their leaves and flower stems stop growing upwards and start growing flat against the ground. These two forms are shown in the first photographs of this post.

Edible Dandelion Mimics:
Dandelion
Cat's Ear
Chicory
Japanese Hawkweed
Salsify
Sow Thistle
Texas Dandelion
Wild Lettuce

Privacy Statement

I use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit this website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.