Cats Ear [Hypochaeris radicata]

Cats Ear, scientifically classified as Hypochaeris radicata, is a perennial weed that is often mistaken for the dandelion due to its striking resemblance. This commonality has earned it the moniker ‘false dandelion’. While it might appear harmless, Cats Ear can become a significant concern for those aiming for a pristine lawn. This article delves into understanding the Cats Ear in depth and offers three prime methods to manage its growth.

Understanding Cats Ear

Growth and Appearance: Cats Ear emerges as a rosette-type weed, making it especially troublesome in lawns since it can withstand being cut to a relatively low height. This adaptability allows it to proliferate even in manicured lawns.

Leaf Structure: The leaves of Cats Ear are elongated, basal, and showcase lobed edges. A distinguishing characteristic is the fine hairs that often cover these leaves, giving them a slightly fuzzy texture.

Root System: Much like the dandelion, Cats Ear possesses a stout tap root. This deep root system not only anchors the weed firmly into the soil but also endows it with the resilience to endure drought conditions.

Flowering: The flowers of Cats Ear are yellow and closely resemble those of the dandelion. These blooms appear in clusters on long, forked stalks, typically between May and October.

Soil Preference: Cats Ear is versatile and can grow in a variety of soil conditions. However, it exhibits a clear inclination towards dry, free-draining soils.

Effective Control Measures

Combatting the spread of Cats Ear requires a blend of preventive and reactive strategies. Here are the top three techniques to keep this weed at bay:

  1. Hand Weeding: Given its stout tap root, manual extraction can be an effective method. The key lies in ensuring the complete removal of the root. If even a fragment of the root remains in the soil, the weed can regenerate, making thoroughness paramount.
  2. Mowing: Regular mowing can play a pivotal role in managing Cats Ear. By preventing the weed from flowering, mowing can curtail its propagation and gradually reduce its presence.
  3. Chemical Treatment: In situations where Cats Ear has extensively invaded a lawn or garden, chemical treatments might be the most pragmatic solution. Opt for a selective weed killer that targets Cats Ear specifically. While a single application might sometimes suffice, often, a second application becomes necessary for comprehensive control. As always, safety should be paramount when using chemicals. Ensure the use of appropriate protective gear, and adhere strictly to the manufacturer’s guidelines.


Cats Ear, with its dandelion-like appearance, can be both an intriguing and problematic presence in lawns and gardens. Early identification, combined with the right control measures, can ensure that your green spaces remain lush, vibrant, and free of Cats Ear. Whether you choose hand weeding, regular mowing, or chemical treatments, a proactive and consistent approach is the key to a Cats Ear-free environment.

John Storm

Oliver Thompson
Lawn Care Expert

About Oliver: Oliver Thompson, a seasoned lawn care expert from the Cotswolds with over two decades of experience, invites all enthusiasts to join him in exploring the world of lawns, sharing knowledge, and fostering a vibrant community of lawn enthusiasts. More info

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