Hoary Bowlesia

Scientific Name(s): Bowlesia incana
Abundance: common
What: leaves
How: raw
Where: moist, disturbed areas, yards, fields
When: winter, spring
Nutritional Value: assorted vitamins
Dangers: beware the mimic creeping buttercup

Leaf Arrangement: Leaves are arranged in an alternate pattern along the stem.

Leaf Shape: The leaves are orbicular to kidney-shaped, often measuring about 0.5 to 2 inches in diameter.

Leaf Venation: Venation is palmate, with several major veins radiating from a central point.

Leaf Margin: The margins are scalloped or shallowly lobed.

Leaf Color: Leaves are a light green, sometimes with a grayish tinge due to the presence of fine hairs.

Flower Structure: Flowers are small and inconspicuous, borne in leaf axils or at the stem tips.

Flower Color: The flowers are typically white or pale green.

Fruit: The fruit is a small, dry capsule.

Seed: Seeds are tiny, enclosed within the capsule.

Stem: Stems are thin, branching, and can be either erect or decumbent (spreading along the ground).

Hairs: The plant is characterized by its dense, fine, white hairs, giving it a grayish or whitish appearance, hence the name "incana." Hairs on stems grow in star-like clusters.

Height: The plant typically grows to a height of about 6 to 12 inches.

Hoary bowlesia growing in a bed of landscaping pebbles.

Close-up of leaves. Note the five major leaf lobes.

Hoary bowlesia grows in a rosette pattern with all the stems originating from a central point.

This weed begins appearing in winter and continues on into spring. It thrives along sidewalks and other urban environments.

Close-up of horay bowlesia's tiny flowers.  Note the hairiness of the leaves.

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.

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

Hoary bowlesia is one of those native "weeds" that many people see but few know. Its light-green, five-lobed, hairy leaves begin popping up along sidewalks and in yards after several cool, winter rains. In many ways it resembles the toxic creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens) which also grows in similar locations and time but the creeping buttercup has smooth, hair-free leaves whereas hoary bowlesia is covered in fine hairs.

If you think the leaves resemble cilantro somewhat you have a good eye. Both cilantro and hoary bowlesia are members of the Apiaceae family aka the carrot family and the leaves do have a flavor somewhat like mild cilantro. These leaves can be used raw as a salad green or seasoning or cooked as a traditional pot herb. This is a plant who's flavor will depend a great deal on your own major taste buds and the specific plant compounds that register the most strongly. If you're the type of person who really dislikes cilantro I still recommend giving hoary bowlesia a small test-nibble. I haven't heard of any reports of it containing the soap-like molecules that some people find disagreeable so you may like it.

Young, toxic Creeping Buttercup. The leaf shape is similar but these leaves are hairless.
Creeping Buttercup

Mature, toxic Creeping Buttercup produces yellow flowers.
Creeping Buttercup

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