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More Information About Hieracium

Hieracium is an absolutely gigantic genus with over 800 species and over 5000 subspecies located on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. The flowers of Hieracium are typical aster-like flowers, with a small central cone surrounded by a mane of yellow petals (sometimes orange or red).

Hieracium belongs to the Asteraceae which makes it a cousin to many other plants that we sell here at Plant Delights, including Aster, Echinacea, Hymenoxys, Zexmenia, Helianthus, Chrysanthemum, Leucanthemum and many more. Hieracium is particularly closely related to Pilosella and several species jump between these two genera at the whim of various taxonomists. Members of the aster family are popular with gardeners for thier large, colorful flowers and 'He-loves-me-he-loves-me-not' ring of petals.

Hieracium has an interesting trait shared by only a few other plants. Many of the thousands of Hieracium 'subspecies' reproduce via a mechanism called apomixis, where the seed that is created inside the fruit is not the product of some hanky panky with a nearby partner. In these plants, if a sexual partner cannot be found, the mother creates embryos that are clones of herself. Take that e-Harmony! This self-cloning mechanism is also sometimes seen in citrus trees, Rubus, Antennaria, Eragrostis, Panicum, Elymus, Nicotiana, Alchemilla and Allium too. Apomixis makes Hieracium such a successful reproducer that some species have become significant weed pests (albeit pretty ones) in some parts of the world.

Another cool bit-o'-trivia about Hieracium is that their breeding and inheritance patterns were once studied by Gregor Mendel, the father of modern genetics. Mendel was trying to reproduce his successful research on the genetics of peas in the 1860's (does any remember their high school biology lecture on dominance / recessiveness and Punnet squares?), but was stymied by the tendency of Hieracium to reproduce via apmoxis. The failure of Mendel to reproduce his work in Hieracium led people to doubt the results of his pea studies so that they ignored his pea results until the early 1900's when they were re-discovered by others and he was academically vindicated. Darn you Hawkweed!

When you are ready to buy Hieracium for your garden, check out our online list of Hieracium for sale below.