Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
A plant found only in the two westernmost tiers of counties in North Dakota, occidental hawk's-beard also ranges from British Columbia and Saskatchewan south to Colorado, New Mexico, and California at elevations up to 8,500 ft.
Occidental hawk's-beard is perennial from a taproot. Plants are usually about a foot tall and have milky juice in the stems and leaves. Lower leaves are up to a foot long and deeply lobed or toothed. Upper leaves are much smaller. Plants may be grayish because of numerous tiny hairs or green and nearly hairless. Young plants may have only one flowering stem, but older plants may have up to ten. Stems branch from the middle or above and each bears 2-6 flower heads. Heads are about 3/4-inch wide and have yellow ray flowers. "Seeds" are achenes about 3/8-inch long bearing a dense tuft of whitish hairs about twice as long.
Look for occidental hawk's-beard from May to July in dry native prairie, especially on slopes. More plants seem to occur where grazing by cattle is light or moderate in intensity. Shoots of an Asian Crepis are consumed as a vegetable, but references available to me mention no economic uses for occidental hawk's-beard.
The hawk's-beards are members of the large and economically important sunflower family (Asteraceae). Aster means "star" in Greek, in reference to the radiate arrangement of the flowers in the heads. The genus contains about 200 species worldwide, 12 of which are native to the Western Hemisphere. These are all found in boreal or western North America. Crepis is Greek for a "boot" or "sandal", the name used for some plant by Pliny. The specific epithet occidentalis means "western" in botanical Latin. Occidental hawk's-beard was first described for science in 1834 by the German botanist Frederick Pursh. Pursh was the first to describe plants collected on lands acquired by the Louisiana Purchase.