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Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Bristly oxtongue  (Picris echioides)

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Life stages of Bristly oxtongue seedling mature plant bottom left picture bottom right picture seeds

Bristly oxtongue is an erect winter and/or summer annual or biennial broadleaf distributed throughout California, except for in the deserts and the Great Basin, up to 1500 feet (450 m). It inhabits agricultural land and other disturbed areas and is particularly troublesome in coastal area orchards.


Crop fields, orchards, vineyards, gardens, landscaped areas, yards, pasture, roadsides and other disturbed, open areas.


The cotyledons (seed leaves) are broadly stalked, oval to egg shaped, and hairless. The first true leaves are more closley egg shaped and are covered with coarse, barbed and bristly hairs, which arise from blisterlike swellings. Leaves are alternate to one another along the stem. Later leaves are similar to the first leaf but are increasingly larger.

Young plant

Until the flower stem develops, plants exist as basal rosettes.

Mature plant

Mature plants are nearly 3-1/3 feet (1 m)  tall and have a milky sap. Stems are coarse and have branches. Leaves are oblong and 2 to 8 inches (5–20 cm) long. Leaves are evenly covered with bristly hairs and are alternate to one another along the stem. Leaf edges can be smooth, coarsely toothed, or shallowly lobed. Upper leaves are stalkless and clasp the stem. Lower leaves and rosette leaves taper to a winged stalk.


Flowers bloom from May through September or October. Yellow flower heads resemble dandelions and grow from the top of the flowering stem. Petals have toothed tips.


The tiny Fruits are brown to pale orange-brown and have a slender attachment that ends in a parachutelike tuft of soft white hairs or bristles.


Reproduces by seed.

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