Yes, the Autumn Hawkbit Scorzoneroides autumnalis (formally known as Leontodon autumnalis), often referred to as the autumn dandelion, is beneficial for bees. It provides bees with both pollen and a good source of nectar late in the season. This perennial is native to Europe and North America and blooms from June to October, offering a prolonged feeding period for pollinators. Its dandelion-like yellow flowers are highly attractive to bees.
However, it’s not just beneficial for bees. The seeds of the Autumn Hawkbit are also a magnet for Finches. This plant thrives in fertile soils under sunny conditions and can even grow in seaside gardens.
Are Autumn Hawkbits The Same As A Dandelion
Although Autumn Hawkbit (Leontodon autumnalis) and Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) may look similar with their bright yellow flowers, they are not the same.
Both belong to the Asteraceae family and are often confused due to their similar appearance. However, there are a few differences that can help you distinguish between the two:
- Leaves: Dandelions have jagged, tooth-like leaves that form a rosette at the base of the plant, hence the name ‘dandelion’, which comes from the French ‘dent de lion’, meaning ‘lion’s tooth’. Autumn Hawkbit leaves are more slender, smooth, and unlobed.
- Flowers: Dandelion flowers are larger and generally more robust than those of the Autumn Hawkbit.
- Stalks: One of the most noticeable differences is the stalk. The Dandelion’s hollow stalk exudes a milky sap when broken. In contrast, the Autumn Hawkbit has solid, leafless stalks.
- Seeds: When a dandelion goes to seed, it forms a distinctive spherical seed head known as a ‘dandelion clock’. Autumn Hawkbit seed heads are more elongated and less tightly packed.
Growing Autumn Hawkbit in Your Garden:
Autumn Hawkbit thrives in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. The plant prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil, making it quite a hardy wildflower. It can tolerate a range of pH levels but prefers slightly acidic to neutral pH.
The best time to plant Autumn Hawkbit seeds is in the spring or early summer when the soil has warmed. Prepare the soil by removing any weeds and breaking up the soil with a garden fork or tiller. Scatter the seeds over the prepared area and lightly rake the soil to cover them.
Water the newly planted seeds regularly until they are established. Once established, Autumn Hawkbit is drought-tolerant and only needs watering during prolonged dry spells. Weeding is essential in the early stages as Autumn Hawkbit seedlings can be easily outcompeted. Once mature, these plants can hold their own against most common weeds.
Deadheading, or removing spent flowers, can encourage more blooms, but it’s not necessary. If you leave the flowers to set seed, you’ll provide food for birds and potentially new plants for next year.
Remember, any effort to increase the number of bee-friendly plants in your garden like the Autumn Hawkbit in your garden will contribute to bee conservation. Bees play a crucial role in pollination, which is essential for our food production and biodiversity.