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

There are four species of Sonchus called puha whose leaves are eaten as salad greens or cooked like spinach. Sonchus oleraceus (Common sow thistle), Sonchus asper (Prickly sow thistle), Sonchus arvensis (Field sow thistle) Sonchus kirkii (New Zealand sow thistle)

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 and South Island, 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.

The use of Puha:
Puha or Rauriki is a green vegetable native to New Zealand. It was one of the staple green vegetables of the Maori people and is still eaten today. Puha can be found growing wild. The 'smooth' leaved puha is the most popular, however, the slightly bitter and 'prickly' leaved puha is also eaten. While it is not grown commercially puha is occasionally available and in some areas, there is a demand for it. The young and crisp puha with a good even colouring provides a very good source of iron, fibre, folate, Vitamins A and C.
To prepare, rub the stems and leaves together under running water and then steam or boil them like spinach. Cook them for 20-30 minutes to remove the bitterness. Usually, puha is boiled with meat. It is placed on top of roast beef, pork or mutton bird 15-20 minutes before the end of cooking. Puha can also be used as a vegetable on its own, in a meat or vegetable casserole or in salads. Use it to make soup, add it to a rice stir fry or put it in pies.

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.

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/