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Sonchus asper

Sonchus asper (L.) Hill

Sonchus asper (L.) Hill ssp. asper

Sonchus asper (L.) Hill ssp. glaucescens (Jord.) J. Ball

Sonchus nymanii Tineo & Guss.

Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderAsteralesFlowering plants with a central disk flower and surrounding petals, like daisies
FamilyAsteraceaeThe aster family, which also includes daisies and sunflowers; from the Greek ἀστήρ, “star,” for the star-shaped flowers
GenusSonchusGreek for “sowthistle”
Speciesasper“Rough”

About plant names...

Although native to Europe, spiny-leaved sow-thistle is a common weed in North America. It is also widespread in Africa, Asia, and Madagascar. In many habitats it is considered a nuisance, and in some it is an invasive.

Identification: Plants reach 3' (1 m) in height. Leaves are up to 6" (15 cm) long, and produce a milky sap when cut. Lower leaves are obovate or spatulate. Upper leaves become more oval or narrow in shape. Leaf edges are spiny, and attached directly to the stem. Clusters of yellow flowers, each ½-1" (1.3-2.5 cm) in diameter, appear at stem tips, appearing from May to October. Fruits are brown and wrinkly, about ⅛" (4 mm) around. They are surrounded by a white puffball. The flowers and the puffballs are reminiscent of small dandelions.

Edibility: Handling plants can cause contact dermatitis for some people: burning or redness, or rashes similar to those from poison ivy. However, younger plants harvested before spines have formed are edible, with lettuce- or Swiss chard-like flavor. Older plants, though non-poisonous, become more bitter and must have the spines cut off. Recipes here. (Thanks to Arpi Szabo for pointing out that sow-thistle is in fact edible. Arpi is a Hungarian student of plant protection mastery writing from SAPIENTIA Hungarian University of Transylvania, in Tîrgu-Mureș, Romania.)

Online References:

Sonchus asper on Missouriplants.com

Sonchus asper on the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Sonchus asper on eFloras

Sonchus asper at Illinois Wildflowers

Sonchus asper on CalPhotos

Sonchus asper at the Vanderbilt University Bioimages web site

Sonchus asper in Flora of Zimbabwe

Sonchus asper on SEINet—the Southwest Environmental Information Network

Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle)

6/30/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 10 × 7" (24 × 17 cm) ID is uncertain

Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle)

6/30/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 5 × 3½" (13 × 9.2 cm) ID is uncertain

Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle)

10/6/2011 · Shieling Forest, Peterborough, NH
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 10 cm) ID is uncertain

Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle)

8/3/2009 · 111 Near 119, Pepperell, MA
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 10 cm) ID is uncertain

Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle)

8/3/2009 · 111 Near 119, Pepperell, MA
≈ 33 × 49" (82 × 123 cm) ID is uncertain

Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle)

7/27/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 6 × 9" (14 × 22 cm)

Sonchus asper description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 3 Jul 2014.

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Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle)

7/17/2009 · Mt. Lebanon St, Trail, Pepperell, MA
≈ 3½ × 2½" (9.3 × 6.2 cm)

Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle)

5/22/2005 · Memphis, TN · By Tim Chandler ID is uncertain

Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle)

10/6/2011 · Shieling Forest, Peterborough, NH
≈ 15 × 10" (39 × 26 cm) ID is uncertain

Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle)

7/11/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 10 cm)

Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle)

8/3/2009 · 111 Near 119, Pepperell, MA
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm) ID is uncertain

Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle)

6/30/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm) ID is uncertain

Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle)

7/17/2009 · Mt. Lebanon St, Trail, Pepperell, MA
≈ 11 × 7" (28 × 18 cm)

Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle)

8/3/2009 · 111 Near 119, Pepperell, MA
≈ 3 × 2' (1 × 0.7 m) ID is uncertain

Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle)

7/17/2009 · Mt. Lebanon St, Trail, Pepperell, MA
≈ 3½ × 2½" (9.3 × 6.2 cm)

Sonchus asper (Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle, Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle)

7/11/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 5 × 3½" (13 × 9.2 cm)

Range:

About this map...