Hypochaeris glabra

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaAsteraceaeHypochaerisHypochaeris glabra


An annual of open summer-parched grasslands and heathy pastures, on usually acidic, nutrient-poor, sandy or gravelly soils; also occurring in dune grassland and on sandy shingle. It was formerly widespread as a weed of arable fields, and as a wool-shoddy alien. Lowland.



World Distribution

European Southern-temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.

© K.J. Walker, BSBI

Broad Habitats

Acid grassland (includes non-calcareous sandy grassland)

Light (Ellenberg): 8

Moisture (Ellenberg): 4

Reaction (Ellenberg): 4

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 2

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 4

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15.9

Annual Precipitation (mm): 754

Height (cm): 20

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Therophyte (annual land plant)



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 270

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 5

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 14

Atlas Change Index: -1.01

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Hypochaeris glabra L.

Smooth cat's-ear

Status: scarce



This plant grows on disturbed, usually nutrient-poor, light soils in acidic sandy, heathy and gravelly places. H. glabra prefers a sunny, warm and exposed situation, and is relatively intolerant of competition, for instance, in open communities on sand dunes, with Jasione montana and occasionally Corynephorus canescens. It often occurs in resown pastures, providing they are not fertilised or irrigated, with Agrostis spp., Potentilla argentea, Radiola linoides, Trifolium spp. and Vicia lathyroides. It was formerly found as a component of open arable communities with Scleranthus annuus and Teesdalia nudicaulis. It also colonises bare ground, along with other pioneer annuals such as Aphanes arvensis, Filago minima, Rumex acetosella and Senecio sylvaticus (Sinker et al. 1985).

H. glabra is a self-compatible annual herb, pollinated by bees. It produces fruit of two forms, which geminates after autumn rains have begun (Fone 1989).

There is no doubt that the range and frequency of H. glabra have been considerably reduced. It used to be more frequent as a weed of sandy arable land and also occurred as a shoddy weed (Silverside 1990). However, it is often overlooked because of its small size, and because it does not open its flowers until 9 a.m. and they shut again by 1 or 2 p.m. (Curtis 1777). Conversely, small forms of H. radicata are often optimistically recorded as H. glabra. The two occasionally hybridise (Stace 1975). 

It is found in Europe, northwards to southern Scandinavia, and in North Africa and the Middle East. It is widely naturalised elsewhere.



D. A. Pearman