Hawkbit, RoughBotanical Name: Leontodon hispidus (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae Part Used: Herb.
Assigned also at one time to the genus Hieracium, but now placed by most botanists in the genus Leontodon, and sometimes in the genus Apargia, are the Hawkbits, of which there are two British species, the Autumnal Hawkbit and the Rough Hawkbit, both abundantly distributed throughout Britain, in meadowland, and on commons and waste ground.
The Rough Hawkbit has been used medicinally in the same manner as the Hawkweeds and the Dandelion, for its action on the kidneys and as a remedy for jaundice and dropsy, and is still used for its diuretic qualities in country districts in Ireland.
It is a plant somewhat resembling the Dandelion in appearance, the leaves all springing from the root, 3 to 4 inches long, jaggedly cut into, with the lobes pointing backwards, but instead of being smooth like the Dandelion, they are rough with forked bristles. The few flowers which the plant bears are borne singly on slender stems, 6 inches to a foot or more high, swollen at the top beneath the heads, which are 1 1/2 inches in diameter when expanded; when in bud, they droop.
The name of the genus, Leontodon, is formed from two Greek words, meaning Lion's tooth, referring to the toothed leaves. Apargia is derived from the name bestowed by the Greeks on this or some similar plant, and is taken from two Greek words, meaning 'From idleness,' the implication being that where these weeds are allowed to abound, the farmer has his own idleness to thank. The name of the genus, Hieracium, derived from the Greek, hieras (a hawk), refers to an ancient belief that hawks ate these plants to sharpen their sight, a belief also indicated in the popular English names, Hawkweed and Hawkbit.
All the Hawkweeds abound in honey and have a sweet honey-like smell when expanded in the full sunshine.