Skip to Content
Return to Home Page
Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Common catsear  (Hypochaeris radicata)

Click on images to enlarge 

Life stages of Common catsear mature plant rosettesseedlingseedsflower head

Common catsear, a perennial broadleaf plant, has seed that can germinate fall through spring depending on the conditions. In California it is found in the Northwestern region, Cascade Range foothills, northern Sierra Nevada foothills, Sacramento Valley, central-western region, and South Coast, up to 1600 feet (about 500 m). Common catsear inhabits agricultural land and other disturbed places. In turf it is usually found as a rosette. Common catsear often thrives on overgrazed pastures and rangeland, is palatable to livestock, and tolerates drought.


Disturbed places such as fields, grassland, pastures, roadsides, orchards, vineyards, landscaped areas, gardens, and turf.


Cotyledons (seed leaves) are narrowly egg shaped and hairless. First leaves are shaped similarly, but usually hairy, with either smooth edges or with some small teeth. Leaves alternate along the stem.

Mature plant

With its flowering stem common catsear grows to about 2-3/5 feet (0.8 m) tall. Leaves are lobed or sawtoothed, with coarse, yellow hairs on the upper and lower surfaces. It has a fleshy taproot. Like dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, it produces a rosette, but can be distinguished by its branched flower stems and coarse yellowish leaf hairs that are rough to the touch. The leaves are more distinctly lobed than dandelion.


Common catsear blooms from May to November. Tiny yellow flowers cluster into flower heads that resemble small dandelions. Unlike dandelion, common catsear has branched flower stems and coarse yellowish leaf hairs.


The single-seeded fruit is brown, narrowly football shaped or oblong, longitudinally ribbed, and has a slender attachment that ends in a tuft of stiff, white bristles that look like tiny feathers.


Common catsear reproduces by seed. In heavily grazed areas or mowed turf it can also reproduce from shoots that grow in the crown area.

Related or similar plants

More information