T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Sonchus kirkii (New Zealand Sowthistle)

Kingdom: Plantae
(Unranked): Angiosperms
(Unranked): Eudicots
(Unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Cichorieae
Genus: Sonchus
Species: S. kirkii
Binominal name: Sonchus kirkii
Synonyms: Sonchus asper var. littoralis, Sonchus littoralis.
Common names: Puha, Coastal Puha, Puwha. New Zealand Sowthistle

Sonchus kirkii is a very fast growing endangered native species of a biennial to perennial herb which grows to 1-1.5m H x .5 W. 
It's a coastal plant with rather thick and glaucous (bluish-green) leaves which are edible and has yellow daisy-like flowers which appear during August – April. After flowering numerous hairy seeds are produces and then dispersed by the wind.
It is endemic to the Three Kings, North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands were it usually grows on cliff faces and in and around damp seepages.. On some offshore islands this species extends up into coastal scrub and herbfield. It occasionally grows on stabilised sand dunes. It is present in Taranaki.
It is easily distinguished from all the other introduced sowthistles species by its very large, non-spinose, glaucous leaves.

 For more detailed inormation visit http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=205  

Photographed at Otari Wilton Reserve, Wellington.
 

The upper surface of a leaf.
 

The underside of a leaf.