prickly sow thistle

(Sonchus asper)

Conservation Status
prickly sow thistle
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

NNA - Not applicable

SNA - Not applicable

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

FAC - Facultative

     
  Midwest

FACU - Facultative upland

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Prickly sow thistle is a 4 to 60 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on one or more stems from a taproot.

The stems are erect, hollow between the nodes, hairless, and often somewhat covered with a whitish, waxy bloom (glaucous). They occasionally branch near the top. The base of the stem is soft, not woody. When broken the stems exude a milky sap.

Middle stem leaves are alternate, inversely egg-shaped to lance-shaped, 2 to 11¾ long, and to 6 wide. They are irregularly, deeply lobed (pinnatifid) with 2 to 5 more or less triangular lobes per side. At the base of the leaf blade is a pair of ear-like projections (auricles) that often wrap around more than half of the stem. The auricles are always rounded. The upper surface of the leaf blade is hairless and shiny. The lower surface paler, hairless, and sometimes somewhat glaucous. The margins have sharp, spreading teeth with prickles at the tip. Basal and lower stem leaves are similar and are on winged leaf stalks. Upper leaves become gradually smaller, less lobed or unlobed, and have more prominent auricles.

The inflorescence is a loose, corymb-like cluster of several flower heads at the end of the stem. The stalks of the inflorescence are usually hairless, occasionally sparsely covered with reddish-brown, spreading, glandular hairs.

The flower heads are to 1 in diameter when fully open. The whorl of bracts at the base of the flower head (involucre) is to ½ long and either contracted at the tip (bell-shaped) or not contracted at the tip (pitcher-shaped). The bracts of the involucre are hairless. Each flower head has 80 to 250 yellow ray florets and no disk florets. The ray florets are 5 16 to long and have 5 small teeth at the tip. The flat, spreading, strap-like portion at the end of the ray floret is shorter than the tube portion at the base.

The fruit is a long achene with usually 3 prominent ribs on each face (6 total) and a smooth, not wrinkled, surface. There is a tuft of microscopically barbed hairs at the tip.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

4 to 60

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

Yellow

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
 

Common sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) leaf auricles are triangular to lance-shaped, usually sharply pointed, rarely rounded, and wrap around no more than half of the stem. The upper surface of the leaf blade is not shiny. The achene is wrinkled and 3 or 5 ribbed.

Field sow thistle (Sonchus arvensis) stem is hard and sometimes woody at the base. The leaf auricles may be rounded or pointed, and wrap around no more than half of the stem. The upper surface of the leaf blade is dull or only slightly shiny. The flower heads are larger, 1 to 1¾ in diameter. The involucre is longer, 9 16 to long. The ray florets are longer, to 1 long. The achene is prominently 5 to 8 ribbed and is wrinkled.

Prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola) leaves have a row of prickles along the midvein on the underside.

Thistle (Cirsium spp., Carduus spp.) stems and leaves do not have milky sap.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Streambanks, river banks, pastures, field edges, roadsides, disturbed areas.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

July to October

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 22, 28.

 
  8/6/2020      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native to Africa, Asia, and Europe, and the Indian subcontinent. Introduced and naturalized in North America.

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (dicots)  
  Superorder Asteranae  
 

Order

Asterales (sunflowers, bellflowers, fanflowers, and allies)  
 

Family

Asteraceae (sunflowers, daisies, asters, and allies)  
  Subfamily Cichorioideae (chicories, dandelions, and allies)  
  Tribe Cichorieae  
  Subtribe Hyoseridinae  
  Genus Sonchus (sow thistle)  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

 

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Sonchus asper ssp. asper

Sonchus asper ssp. glaucescens

Sonchus nymanii

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

perennial sowthistle

prickly sow thistle

prickly sowthistle

rough sow thistle

spiny sow thistle

spiny sowthistle

spiny-leaf sow-thistle

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Achene

A dry, one-chambered, single-seeded fruit, formed from a single carpel, with the seed attached to the membranous outer layer (wall) only by the seed stalk; the wall, formed entirely from the wall of the superior ovary, does not split open at maturity, but relies on decay or predation to release the contents.

 

Auricle

A small, ear-like projection at the base of a leaf or at the junction of a grass blade and stem.

 

Corymb

A flat-topped or convex inflorescence in which the stalked flowers grow upward from various points on the main stem to approximately the same horizontal plane. The outer flowers open first.

 

Glandular hairs

Hairs spread over aerial vegetation that secrete essential oils. The oils act to protect against herbivores and pathogens or, when on a flower part, attract pollinators. The hairs have a sticky or oily feel.

 

Glaucous

Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.

 

Involucre

A whorl of bracts beneath or surrounding a flower or flower cluster.

 

Node

The small swelling of the stem from which one or more leaves, branches, or buds originate.

 

Pinnatifid

Deeply cut, more than half way to the midrib but not to the midrib, into lobes that are spaced out along the midrib; the lobes do not form separate leaflets.

 

Wing

A thin, flat, membranous, usually transparent appendage on the margin of a structure.

       
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Plant

  prickly sow thistle   prickly sow thistle
       
  prickly sow thistle    
       

Inflorescence

  prickly sow thistle    
       

Flower Head

  prickly sow thistle   prickly sow thistle
       
  prickly sow thistle    
       

Leaves

  prickly sow thistle   prickly sow thistle
       
  prickly sow thistle    
       
       

 

Camera

     
Slideshows
   
  Sonchus asper
Susanne Wiik
 
  Sonchus asper  
 
About

Sharp-fringed sow thistle, stivdylle

 
     
  Rough Sow-thistle
Wez Smith
 
  Rough Sow-thistle  
 
About

Rough Sow-thistle (Sonchus asper).

 
     
  Spiny Sowthistle (Sonchus asper)
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  Spiny Sowthistle (Sonchus asper)  

 

slideshow

       
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Other Videos
 
  Spiny Sowthistle - Sonchus asper
adamitshelanu
 
   
 
About

Published on May 29, 2014

Spiny Sowthistle - Sonchus asper

Uncle Steve has been watching this young tender but nasty weed/wildflower blooming here in Randolph County, North Carolina.

The species: Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle
Sonchus asper
Prickly Sow Thistle, Spiny Sowthistle

Date: 29 MAY 2014

[vado-g3 sansa avidemux audacity]

   
       
  Sharp-fringed Sow Thistle (Sonchus asper) - 2013-06-01
W3stlander
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 3, 2013

Sonchus asper (Sharp-fringed Sow Thistle, Prickly Sow Thistle, Spiny Sow Thistle, or Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle) is an annual plant with spiny leaves and yellow flowers resembling those of the dandelion.

---------------
De Gekroesde melkdistel of Ruwe melkdistel (Sonchus asper) is een kruidachtige, eenjarige plant uit de composietenfamilie (Compositae oftewel Asteraceae).

   
       
  Sonchus asper
wetvideocamera
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 24, 2014

Prickly Sow-Thistle - Annual or Biennial plant up to a meter tall. Alternate leaves without stalks seem to wrap around the stems. Clusters of yellow ray flowers. Milky latex oozes from broken stems. Widespread introduced plant from Europe.

   
       
  What's That Weed? Spiny-Leaved Sow Thistle
thenewsurvivalist
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jun 16, 2011

"Survival Doc" finds Spiny-Leaved Sow Thistle (Sonchus asper) in his front yard and discusses how to identify wild plants that can be used as an emergency survival food or herbal medicine.

   
       
  Prickly Sow Thistle with Birdsong by a White Eyed Verio
Dustie Meads
 
   
 
About

Published on Apr 21, 2012

Northwest Arkansas, while walking along Sugar Creek I happened upon this beautiful (of course there are many who would not call a thistle beautiful...but I think it is) prickly sow thistle. While I was shooting this video, a bird from somewhere in the forest which lined both sides of the creek began a serenade. The bird you hear in the background has been identified for me as a White Eyed Verio.

   
       

 

Camcorder


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