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151216 Pilosella aurantiaca Orange hawkweed aka fox and cubs

Just two short weeks ago, my local cemetery was dotted with these vibrant little bursts of orange. Now they’ve all disappeared. This pretty little member of the daisy family is officially known as Pilosella aurantiaca but I much prefer its many common names: orange or tawny hawkweed (‘hawk’ because the Romans believed hawks ate the blossoms to enhance their vision and ‘weed’ because it can be very invasive in the right conditions); Grim-the-collier (after the character Grim, who appeared in English devil plays in the 1600s); devil’s paintbrush (another reference to the devil in those old plays or, maybe, because it can be a devil of a plant to get rid of!); and, my favourite, fox-and-cubs (perhaps because the yet-to-open flowers seem to hide beneath those that are open or, more likely, because the furry rosette of leaves sends out runners to produce more furry little plants). Love it or curse it, this little plant is rich in nectar so a favourite of bees.

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