Catsear (Hypochaeris radicata or Hypochoeris radicata), also known as flatweed, cat’s ear or false dandelion, is a perennial, low-lying edible herb often found in lawns. The plant is native to Europe, but has also been introduced to the Americas, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
The leaves, which may grow up to eight inches, are lobed and covered in fine hairs, forming a low-lying rosette around a central taproot. Forked stems carry bright yellow flower heads, and when mature these form seeds attached to windborne “parachutes”. All parts of the plant exude a milky sap when cut.
All parts of the catsear plant are edible; however, the leaves and roots are those most often harvested. The leaves are bland in taste but can be eaten raw in salads, steamed, or used in stir-fries. Older leaves can become tough and fibrous, but younger leaves make for good eating. In contrast to the edible leaves of dandelion, catsear leaves only rarely have some bitterness. In Crete, Greece, the leaves of a variety called pachies (παχιές) or agrioradika (αγριοράδικα) are eaten boiled or cooked in steam by the locals.
The root can be roasted and ground to form a coffee substitute.