What is hawkweed?

(Hieracium species)
Note: orange hawkweed Hieracium aurantiacum is now Pilosella aurantiaca subsp. aurantiaca

  • There are a number of introduced hawkweed species which are potential weeds in Tasmania.
  • Hawkweed is a weed of native grasslands and pastures.
  • Hawkweed is a declared weed in Tasmania under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of hawkweed are prohibited in Tasmania.

How to identify hawkweed

  • Hawkweeds are perennial (long-lived) herbs belonging to the daisy family.
  • The description of orange hawkweed is as follows. The stems grow to 40 cm high and have numerous blackish hairs. The flowers are bright orange and daisy-like while the leaves occur as a rosette (or whorl) at the base of the plant and are also hairy. Leaves usually grow at a slight angle to the ground but under grazing pressure and harsh conditions they lie flat.
  • Seed germinates throughout the growing season, especially in autumn. Plants grow rapidly and usually flower within the first growing season, but flowering may be delayed in late germinating plants. Seedlings establish readily on bare areas.
  • Orange hawkweed plants produce between four and eight leafy runners (called stolons) that can reach lengths of 25 cm. Runners grow from buds in the rosette when the plants are flowering. These runners form new rosettes so that a patch continues to expand until it covers the site with a solid mat of hawkweed.
Hawkeed Hawkweed
Image top right: Hawkweed (Louis-M Landry)
Image above left: Hawkweed (Louis-M Landry)
Image above right: Hawkweed (Louis-M Landry)

Hawkweed in Tasmania

  • Two species of hawkweed have been recorded in Tasmania: orange hawkweed Hieracium aurantiacum has naturalised at several sites, while mouse-ear hawkweed H. pilosella established at one site but has now been eradicated.
  • Hawkweed has been found in open woodland and grasslands, poor pastures, roadsides and neglected areas in the Southern Midlands, Central Highlands and around Hobart. Hawkweed is also occasionally found in the ornamental and herbal plant trade.
  • Hawkweed colonises spaces between tussock grasses, often in higher altitude areas, and can be extremely invasive. Heavy infestations form large swards which prevent regeneration and survival of native species and reduce productivity in grazing areas.

What is the legal status of hawkweed in your area?

Detailed management and control guidelines for hawkweed can be found in the Hawkweed Control Guide. Refer also to Herbicides for Hawkweed Control. For further information see DPIPWE's Weed Links and Resources.

See also
Hawkweed Control Guide
Herbicides for Hawkweed Control
Hawkweed Statutory Weed Management Plan
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links
City of Hobart - Orange Hawkweed Control Program
Pest Genie
Weeds in Australia - Weed Management Guide

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