Cat’s Ear/False Dandelion – Porcelle
Hypochoeris radicata (Cat’s Ear) is a plant which is found all over Europe. It is often mistaken for Dandelion, but there are differences: the stems of the Cat’s Ear are forked and solid, the stems of the Dandelion are unforked and hollow; the leaves of Cat’s Ear are lobe-shaped and hairy, the leaves of the Dandelion are more jagged in appearance; Dandelion leaves have a bitter taste, the leaves of the Cat’s Ear are rarely bitter. They both exude a milky sap and form a rosette of leaves around a taproot. They have similar yellow flowers which form windborne seeds.
All parts of the plants are edible, in particular the leaves and the root. The leaves are very popular in Provence where they go by two names, ‘Morre de Porc’ or ‘Pèu de Garpaud’. They are harvested from autumn until beginning of spring. The roots can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute.
Hypochoeris glabra (Smooth Cat’s Ear) is closely related to the above, but grows on sandy soils with leaves that are smooth. The flowers are green. The leaves are used in the same way as Cat’s Ear leaves.
The leaves mixed with bacon, garlic and steamed potatoes and a vinaigrette dressing make a tasty dish.
Bibliography: Web – Wikipedia; Sauvages et comestibles by Marie-Claude Paume