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Book cover - Common Weeds of New ZealandAn Illustrated Guide to
Common Weeds
of New Zealand


Pilosella officinarum
(syn. Hieracium pilosella)
mouse-ear hawkweed


Hieracium pilosella - mouse-ear hawkweedReproduced from
Common Weeds of New Zealand
by Ian Popay, Paul Champion & Trevor James
ISBN 0 473 09760 5
by kind permission of the
New Zealand Plant Protection Society

Publication or other use of images or descriptive text on these pages is unauthorised unless written permission is obtained from the authors and publisher.
Appropriate acknowledgement of the publication Common Weeds of New Zealand must always be given.

Available from Nationwide Book Distributors

Creeping, rosette-based, mat-forming perennial, often in dense colonies that exclude all other vegetation. Each flower stalk carries one large yellow composite flower head. The leaves have long hairs on the upper surface, and are downy white with star-shaped hairs on the undersides.

  • Flowers Lemon-yellow, about 3 cm in diameter, solitary on leafless stalks. The florets often have a red stripe the on outer surface. Flowers Oct-Feb.
  • Fruit Purplish-black achenes, about 2 mm by 0.5 mm, with off-white, simple brittle pappus hairs 5-6 mm long in a single row.
  • Leaves Dense rosette leaves are 5-8 cm long, almost entire, bluish-green. Leaves with scattered long hairs about 5 mm long on the upper surface, white with dense star-shaped hairs on undersides.
  • Stems Slender, unbranched flower stalks 10-25 cm tall and slender, creeping, hairy stolons spreading along the ground surface.
  • Roots Creeping underground rhizomes.


High-country tussock and dry pasture land, river flats and terraces, road-sides and forest margins.


Increasing in NI in Rotorua, Volcanic Plateau, Lake Waikaremoana, Kaimanawa and Ruahine Ranges and in Hawkes Bay. Common throughout SI and, except for Nelson, abundant in upper Waitaki Valley. Originally from Europe, north and central Asia.


A major weed of SI High Country pastures. Can be controlled by pasture improvement. Separated from other, similar species, by its large, solitary, pale yellow flowers and dense star-shaped hairs on stolons and undersides of leaves. Subject to Pest Plant Management Strategies in one or more regions. Check with the regional council for details.

Derivation of botanical name

Hieracium from the Gr. name for hawk, since Pliny, the Roman naturalist believed hawks ate the plant to strengthen their eyesight; pilosella (Lat.) = with short soft hairs.


Web-notes: Weed Links

On this site

Reproduced from Common Weeds of New Zealand:

External Links

WeedbustersWeedbusters New Zealand
Weedbusters is a weeds awareness and education programme that aims to protect New Zealand's environment from the increasing weed problem.
A free tool to assist farmers and agricultural professionals in decision-making regarding weed and pest identification, biology, impact and management.
Weed keyNew Zealand Weeds Key
An interactive identification key to the weeds of New Zealand. Developed at Landcare Research.

New Zealand Plant Conservation Network naturalised plants
Search for information on more than 2500 naturalised and weedy plants.
NZ Plant Protection SocietyNew Zealand Plant Protection Society
Their main objective: "To pool and exchange information on the biology of weeds, invertebrate and vertebrate pests, pathogens and beneficial organisms and methods for modifying their effects."
Massey UniversityMassey University Weeds Database
A site providing information about New Zealand weeds and weed control. It has a series of pages showing pictures of New Zealand weeds, notes on identification and control. It also provides information on a university paper entitled Controlling Weeds.

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Last updated: March 1, 2021