Sharp-fringed sow thistle

Sonchus asper
Aster family (Asteraceae)

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Sonchus asper, the prickly sow-thistle, rough milk thistle, spiny sowthistle, sharp-fringed sow thistle, or spiny-leaved sow thistle, is a widespread plant in the dandelion tribe within the daisy family.


Sonchus asper is an annual or biennial herb sometimes reaching a height of 200 cm. with spiny leaves and yellow flowers resembling those of the dandelion. The leaves are bluish-green, simple, lanceolate, with wavy and sometimes lobed margins, covered in spines on both the margins and beneath. The base of the leaf surrounds the stem. The leaves and stems emit a milky sap when cut. One plant will produce several flat-topped arrays of flower heads, each head containing numerous yellow ray flowers but no disc flowers.


Sonchus asper is native to Europe, North Africa, and western Asia. It has also become naturalized on other continents and is regarded as a noxious, invasive weed in many places. Its edible leaves make a palatable and nutritious leaf vegetable.

It is found in cultivated soil, pastures, roadsides, edges of yards, vacant lots, construction sites, waste areas and in grasslands.


External links

  • Spiny Sowthistle in Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide
  •'s article on the Spiny Sowthistle
  • photo of herbarium specimen at Missouri Botanical Garden, collected in Madagascar in 1932



WWW info


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