Common Sow-thistle

Prickly and smooth sow-thistles are common weeds of cultivated areas very difficult to tell apart



There are two common species of sow-thistle (Sonchus species) that are very similar and I am not competent enough to tell them apart and so I combine my sightings under the name 'common sow-thistle'. The two species are prickly but also known as rough sow-thistle (Sonchus asper) and smooth sow-thistle (Sonchus oleraceus).

They are different, of course, but the defining factor is whether the auricles of the leaves are rounded or not! Rough sow-thistle can have brighter yellow flowers, may have more pointed leaves, may prefer lime soils and is less likely to be seen in winter months. Smooth sow-thistle is probably the nore frequent of the two. Overall, they are quite unmistakably thistles but with yellow flowers that occur in clusters, have prickly leaves and exude a milky substrance if broken.

Undoubtedly weeds of cultivated areas the seed and spread quickly. The leaves are edible and are popular in Chinese cooking and the plant are used by herablists as a cure for gall stones, liver and kidney complaints and piles.


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Common Name Common Sow-thistle
Alternative Name(s) Prickly and Smooth Sow-thistles
Scientific Name Sonchus species
Family Daisy family - Compositae
Status Common
Interest Level
Related Species - CLICK TO VIEW Daisy Family - Compositeae
Flower Colour Group Yellow
Flower Visible
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
Look for Tight dandelion-like fowers and prickly leaves

This species is often found in these habitats:

Habitat(s) Relationship
BA: Arable farmland Associated
BF: Fringes - roadsides, bare ground & wasteland Associated
Name of species Common Sow-thistle
This page created by PeterOrchard
This page was created 7 years 1 month ago

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