PAINTBRUSH





(Hieracium aurantiacum) Chicory family



Flower-beads - Reddish orange; 1 in. across or less, the

5-toothed rays overlapping in several series; several heads on

short peduncles in a terminal cluster. Stem: Usually leafless, or

with 1 to 2 small sessile leaves; 6 to 20 in. high, slender,

hairy, from a tuft of hairy, spatulate, or oblong leaves at the

base.

Preferred Habitat - Fields, woods, roadsides, dry places.

Flowering Season - June-September.

Distribution - Pennsylvania and Middle States northward into

British Possessions.



Peculiar reddish-orange disks, similar in shade to the butterfly

weed's umbels, attract our eyes no less than those of the bees,

flies, and butterflies for whom such splendor was designed. After

cross-fertilization has been effected, chiefly through the agency

of the smaller bees, a single row of slender, brownish,

persistent bristles attached to the seeds transforms the head

into the "devil's paint-brush." Another popular title in England,

from whence the plant originally came, is Grimm the Collier. All

the plants in this genus take their name from hierax = a hawk,

because people in the old country once thought that birds of prey

swooped earthward to sharpen their eyesight with leaves of the

hawkweed, hawkbit, or speerhawk, as they are variously called.

Transplanted into the garden, the orange hawkweed forms a

spreading mass of unusual, splendid color.



The RATTLESNAKE-WEED, EARLY or VEIN-LEAF HAWKWEED, SNAKE or POOR

ROBIN'S PLANTAIN (H. venosum), with flower-heads only about half

an inch across, sends up a smooth, slender stem, paniculately

branched above, to display the numerous dandelion-yellow disks as

early as May, although October is not too late to find this

generous bloomer in pine woodlands, dry thickets, and sandy soil.

Purplish-veined oval leaves, more or less hairy, that spread in a

tuft next the ground, are probably as efficacious in curing

snakebites as those of the rattlesnake plantain (q.v.). When a

credulous generation believed that the Creator had indicated with

some sign on each plant the special use for which each was

intended, many leaves were found to have veinings suggesting the

marks on a snake's body; therefore, by simple reasoning, they

must extract venom. How delightful is faith cure!



Unlike the preceding, the CANADA HAWKWEED (H. Canadense), lacks a

basal tuft at flowering time, but its firm stem, that may be any

height from one to five feet, is amply furnished with oblong to

lance-shaped leaves seated on it, their midrib prominent, the

margins sparingly but sharply toothed. In dry, open woods and

thickets, and along shady roadsides, its loosely clustered heads

of clear yellow, about one inch across, are displayed from July

to September; and later the copious brown bristles remain for

sparrows to peck at.



The ROUGH HAWKWEED (H. scabrum), with a stout, stiff stem crowned

with a narrow branching cluster of small yellow flower-heads on

dark bristly peduncles, also lacks a basal tuft at flowering

time. Its hairy oblong leaves are seated on the rigid stem. In

dry, open places, clearings, and woodlands from Nova Scotia to

Georgia, and westward to Nebraska, it blooms from July to

September.



More slender and sprightly is the HAIRY HAWKWEED (H. Gronovii),

common in sterile soil from Massachusetts and Illinois to the

Gulf States. The basal leaves and lower part of the stiff stem,

especially, are hairy, not to allow too free transpiration of

precious moisture.





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