Sensitive Plant of Asteraceae Family


Many species of plants growing on the territory of the museum have a unique appearance and high decorative qualities. One of them is the orange-red or orange hawkweed (Pilosella aurantiaca (L.) FWSchultz & Sch.Bip.).
The scientific name — Pilosella aurantiaca — perfectly describes this plant. Pilosella, the generic name, means «with small hairs,» while the special epithet aurantiaca means «orange.»
Orange hawkweed, the genus of herbaceous plants in the daisy family of Asteraceae, is a perennial plant, which may reach a height of 20–40 cm. Oblong leaves with the green upper surface of the leaf and gray or white-tomentose lower leaf side, form a rosette cup, pressed to the ground. When the sun is hot, the leaves of the hawkweed roll up and turn their lower, tomentose side, which protects the plant from excessive evaporation, to the sun. The blooming period occurs in June-August, the inflorescences have dark orange or orange-red flowers.
The homeland of the hawkweed is Alpine regions of central and southern Europe, and also Asia. The species was introduced into the UK and Ireland in the early 17th century as a garden ornamental plant. The plant was brpught into in the USA in 1875.
Japanese florists indicate it for Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands since 1936. Hawkweed is widespread in southern Sakhalin, growing throughout the Susunay Valley. But so far, scientists have doubted that this rare species was brought to Sakhalin from Europe, and consider it be a Sakhalin plant.
Hawkweed is a very beautiful plant, so many gardeners use it as an ornamental flower to decorate their garden plots.
People call the hawkweed as «lights» for the bright color of its flowers.
There is a legend that the ancient Greeks considered juice of the hawkeed a medicine, which increase the vision ability of hawk eagles (more correctly, hunting falcons). Falconry is the favorite sport of the nobility in Russia. Perhaps, the recipes of the ancient Greeks were successfully practiced by falconers of Russian tsars? Who knows…

V. A. Dubinina



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