Canada hawkweed is native to temperate climes of Europe, Asia, and North America.
Pliny the elder maintained that hawks feed on hawkweeds to improve their remarkable
eyesight, hence the name.
you want to start a bar fight, just ask somebody the scientific name of Canada hawkweed. (This might
work best at a bar outside of a botanical convention.)
In addition to Hieracium canadense, this species is often referred to as Hieracium kalmii, or Kalm’s hawkweed, after
Swedish-Finnish explorer and naturalist Pehr Kalm (1715-1779). The taxonomy of hawkweeds is contentious; the Flora of North America
refers to this species as Hieracium umbellatum and mentions that this supersedes the “illegitimate name”
Hieracium canadense var. kalmii. So that’s four different current names. Hawkweeds as a group
have been classified into as many as 9,000 variants over time. Hawkweeds are unusual because they
reproduce asexually. This leads to regional variants that are not, technically at least, new species.
Identification: Plants are 6-60" (15-152 cm) in height, with
leafy stems, the lower part of which have long hairs. Upper stems are fuzzy.
Stems, leaves and stolons secrete a milky latex when cut.
Leaves are alternate, lanceolate to elliptic, smooth and greenish gray on
top, hairy and rough below. Leaves are pointed, with sparse, unevenly spaced sharp teeth. Leaves attach directly to stems, sometimes partially
clasping the stems. Flowers appear in loosely branched clusters. Each flower is about
1" (2.5 cm) across, with 30 or more florets.