Hypochaeris radicata, commonly known as the false dandelion or hairy wild lettuce and in Afrikaans as katoor (cat ear), is an herbaceous perennial reaching 20 cm in height when flowering. All plant parts exude a milky latex.
The plant is a strong-growing, naturalised exotic originally from Morocco, now common on all continents excepting Antarctica.
The generic name, Hypochaeris, is derived from the Greek word hypo meaning beneath and khaeris meaning young pig, referring to the proclivity of pigs for the tasty roots of these plants. The specific name, radicata, is derived from the Latin word radix meaning root and -atus indicating possession or likeness, also referring to the roots.
The prostrate leaf rosette grows from the stem near ground level, sprouting from the top of the substantial taproot. The oblanceolate leaves are broadest near their tips, lobed or finely toothed and hairy.
Tall, erect, naked, and sparsely branched stems are topped with bright yellow flowerheads becoming 2 cm to 3 cm in diameter, resembling dandelion heads. The fruits have parachute-like attachments rendering them windborne in dispersal.
The plants invade disturbed land strongly, replacing indigenous species in overgrazed fields. All plant parts are edible (Curtis-Scott, et al, 2020; Andrew, 2017; iNaturalist; http://redlist.sanbi.org).