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Common Sow Thistle
Asteraceae
Sonchus oleraceus


Thunder
Thunder
Type Categories Useful Parts

Herb



Asteraceae Family

Sonchus Genus
Other Names for this Plant

Sow thistle, Smooth Sow Thistle, Annual Sow Thistle, Hare's Colwort, Hare's Thistle, Milky Tassel, Swinies, Pualele [Hawai'i]; hare's lettuce [USA]; rauriki, pororua, puwha, puha [Maori]; cerraja, serraja, diente de leon lechoso [Colombia]; leche [Bolivia]; llamp'u [Aymara]; qarasapi [Quechua].


Location

Native to Europe and Asia. Found in Australia, Europe, Asia, Middle East, and North and South America

Physical Description
This plant is a winter or spring annual that is 1-6' tall, branching very little except near the apex where the flowerheads occur. The central stem is hairless and dull green; sometimes it is tinted with reddish purple. The alternate leaves are up to 10" long and 2½" across, becoming smaller and more sparsely distributed as they ascend the central stem. Each leaf is odd pinnate with deep triangular lobes; its margins are dentate with soft prickles. The upper leaves are more likely to be entire or have shallow lobes. Like the central stem, each leaf has a dull green upper surface and is hairless; its base may be tinted reddish purple. At this base, there is a pair of pointed lobes that wrap around the stem. The upper stems terminate in small clusters of flowerheads about ¾" across when fully open; they bloom during the morning and close by noon. Each flowerhead consists of numerous yellow ray florets and no disk florets. The floral bracts at the base of the flowerhead are dull green, hairless, and overlap each other in a vertical series. The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer and lasts about a month in a given locale; a few plants may bloom later in the year. Each flowerhead is shortly replaced by numerous achenes with tufts of fluffy white hairs. Each dark achene is somewhat flattened, ribbed, and oblongoid; one end is somewhat broader than the other. Distribution of the achenes is by the wind. The root system consists of a stout taproot. The foliage contains a milky latex. This plant spreads by reseeding itself


Compare Species
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Asteraceae
Asterales
Asterales
Star Order (Daisies)
Euasterids II
Euasterids II
Real Stars Group Two
Asteridae
Asteridae
Class of Stars (Daisies)
Core Eudicots
Core Eudicots
Main, Real, Two First-Leaves (Dicots)
Eudicots
Eudicots
Real, Two First-Leaves (Dicots)
Mesangiospermae
Mesangiospermae
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnoliophyta
Magnoliophyta
Magnolia Division
Spermatophytes
Spermatophytes
Seed Plants
Euphyllophytina
Real Land Plants
Polysporangiates
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Stomatophytes
Stomatophytes
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
Embryophytes
Embryophytes
Multicellular Land Plants
Streptobionta
Streptobionta
Multicellular Plants
Plantae
Plantae
Plants
Eukaryota
Eukaryota
Cells with a Nucleus


General Information

Medicinal Uses: Sonchus oleraceus has a variety of medicinal uses. Parts of the plant have been used variously to stimulate menstrual flow, alter liver function, stimulate fluid elimination, stall defecation, and to combat cancer, warts, inflammation and fever.

The plant is emmenagogue and hepatic. An infusion has been used to bring on a tardy menstruation and to treat diarrhea. The latex in the sap is used in the treatment of warts. It is also said to have anticancer activity. The stem juice is a powerful hydrogogue and cathartic, it should be used with great caution since it can cause colic and tenesmus. The gum has been used as a cure for the opium habit. The leaves are applied as a poultice to inflammatory swellings. An infusion of the leaves and roots is febrifuge and tonic

Food Uses: Leaves are usually the part, which people eat, and they are useful as salad greens, or cooked like spinach. Blanching or boiling removes bitter flavour. Nutritional analysis reveals 30 40 mg of vitamin C per 100g, 1.2% protein, 0.3% fat, 2.4% carbohydrate.

Young leaves - raw or cooked. This species has the nicest tasting leaves of the genus, they usually have a mild agreeable flavor especially in the spring. They can be added to salads, cooked like spinach, or used in soups etc. It might be best, though it is not essential, to remove the marginal prickles. Stems - cooked like asparagus or rhubarb. They are best if the outer skin is removed first. Young root - cooked. They are woody and not very acceptable. The milky sap has been used as a chewing gum by the Maoris of New Zealand

Other Notes: The latex in the stem contains 0.14% rubber, but this is much too low for commercial exploitation



Common Sow Thistle




Common Sow Thistle




Common Sow Thistle
Showing seedheads



Common Sow Thistle


Comment: Common Sow Thistle, Sonchus oleraceus

Page Posts: 2

Thunder
Thunder
June 16, 2010
Sounds like my mom...she used the hot bacon dressing on potatoe salad....that was a treat too!

gardengeek
gardengeek
June 16, 2010
Steam some Sonchus, with some Wild Lettuce, Chopped Salsify, Dandelion leaves, then mix with a little butter and bacon. YUM!

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