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Washington State Weeds

Orange Hawkweed

orange hawkweed

Hieracium aurantiacum • Class B

Family Name: Asteraceae family (ass-ter-AY-see-ee)
Common: Aster, daisy, or sunflower family
Genus: Hieracium (hi-er-uh-KEE-um)
Meaning: From the Greek meaning a hawk, referring to belief that hawks fed on the plant to strengthen eyesight
Species: aurantiacum  (aw-ran-ti-AYE-kum)
Meaning: Orange-red colored

Plants have a basal rosette of narrow, pointed leaves that are 4 to 6 inches long and may be smooth or hairy, but are not woolly underneath like the Mouse-ear hawkweed.  

Orange hawkweed produces 5 to 30 compact, flowerheads consisting of only ray flowers, that are bright red on the edges and orange in the center.  Flowerheads grow in compact to open clusters of 3 to 7, or more. Bracts at the base of the flowerheads are hairy. 

Flowering stems stand from a few inches to 2 feet tall and are leafless, covered with stiff hairs, and contain a milky sap. 

 Why Is it a Noxious Weed?

It forms dense mats which prevent other plants from establishing seedlings crowding out native species and desirable vegetation. It is an aggressive competitor for pasture and rangeland.

Where Does it Grow?

Orange hawkweed infests wetlands and lawns and is especially invasive on poorer acidic soils. It is an aggressive competitor for pastures, meadows, native grasslands. It prefers full to partial sunlight. It is unpalatable and crowds out more palatable species. 


Orange hawkweed is one of only 6 known Pollen Allelopathic plants. The pollen released from its flowers releases toxins that inhibit the seed germination, seedling emergence, and sporophytic growth of surrounding plants. 

Control Options:
  • As usual with invasive species, the best control measure for Orange Hawkweed is prevention. Early detection and eradication are vital to prevent the spread of hawkweed. It continues to be introduced in wildflower seed mixtures. Carefully review the ingredients of wildflower mixes to avoid accidental introduction. 
  • For small infestations, manual removal can help control hawkweeds. Prevent seed production by removing plants that are budded or blooming. Bag all plant materials and dispose of them in the garbage, do not compost. 

  • Treatment with nitrogen will help the grasses to competitively suppress hawkweed growth. 

  • Treatment with an herbicide containing the active ingredient 2, 4 D plus dicamba is  effective in controlling orange hawkweed. Apply on postemergent to flowering plants.  Not effective in fall.

  • Spot spraying with an herbicide containing the active ingredient glyphosate may also be used effectively in the spring while the plant is in the pre-bud to early bud growth stage. The goal is to insure all plants have emerged. Spray each plant thoroughly on the stems and leaves, enough to be wet but not dripping. Be aware, glyphosate is non-selective and will injure any plants that it comes in contact with, including grass. 
  • For selective control of hawkweed in agricultural settings like pastures, hayfields, etc., an herbicide containing the active ingredient aminopyralid  may be applied in the spring to plants in the pre-bud to early bud growth stage, it is also effective in the fall before a killing frost. Aminopyralid products will not harm grass and can be used around livestock (provided all label precautions are followed).  
  • When using herbicides, always read and follow all label instructions and obey all label precautions. (Note: pesticide product registration is renewed annually and product names and formulations may vary from year to year.)
  • To minimize any harmful impact on bees and other pollinators, timing is important.  Ideally, treat plants before blooming.  If treatment after blooming is necessary, do control work early in the morning, or in the evening when bees are less active.
  • There are no known biological control agents for use on hawkweeds in the United States.  

More Information:

 Download our Flyer or visit Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board Here. Photo by Leo Michels


More Pictures:  

orange hawkweedorange hawkweed noxious weedorange hawkweed a weed in pierce county