The Fox and Cubs or Orange Hawkweed


The Fox and Cubs or Orange Hawkweed

A beautiful British wildflower of damp sunny meadows, the fox-and-cubs or orange hawkweed has flowers of a gorgeously fiery orange. It can be found on British lawns all over the country.

Pilosella aurantiaca, commonly known as orange hawkweed or fox-and-cubs, was introduced to British gardens as an ornamental plant in the 17th century. Originally an alpine plant native to central and southern Europe, it soon escaped cultivation, establishing a foothold in meadows and grasslands.

It grows up to 40cm high and spreads by means of long leafy runners.

Despite its non-native origins, the fox-and-cubs has integrated seamlessly into the UK's biodiversity. This vigorous perennial has lovely, deep-orange flowers held in clusters on slender stems that emerge from a rosette of hairy foliage.

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, this hardy wildflower plays a crucial role in supporting local wildlife. Its nectar-rich flowers attract pollinators like bees, hover flies and butterflies. Its flowering period is high summer - from June to September.

The name of 'Fox-and-Cubs' refers to the way that many of the as-yet un-opened flower heads hide beneath those that have opened. The seed-head of orange hawkweed is both smaller and coarser than that of the dandelion, to which it is related.

Fox-and-Cubs is often found in churchyards and graveyards, but can equally be found in the garden.

Further reading

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