We see this plant along the road, on pastures, and in the humidity of riverbanks. It can grow as tall as 2 meters (6 ½ ft)
. Weavers used its husky flower petals to teasel, to nap the baize. Adherent leaves cupping around the shaft collect raindrops and dew.
Researchers claim that the name of the plant is based on folk observation: people may have seen the hawk drinking from the moisture accumulated in the leaves.
A Mari folk tale
(a group of people living in Russia) tells the name's origin as follows
: “once upon a time, the hawk sprang a well, and then took a bath in it. When it left, there came the crow, wallowed in the well, and got dirty. Afterwards, both flew up into the heavens, stood before God, and claimed to have dug the well. God did not believe the hawk, because it was clean, but believed the crow, because it was muddy. In his wrath, God commanded the hawk to drink only from the leaves, while the crow was allowed to drink from wells and rivers as well. Since then, the crow is crested, and the hawk flies about, squawking in draught, waiting for the dew.”
In times of old, the water accumulated in the leaves was believed to cleanse the face from freckles and spots, to heal the cracked heel and the scaly eye.