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

Sonchus oleraceus (Sow Thistle)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Cichorieae
Genus :Sonchus
Species: S. oleraceus
Binomial name: Sonchus oleraceus
Common name: Sow Thistle, Sowthistle, Hare's Thistle, Common Sow Thistle,  Puha, 

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)

Sow thistle is commonly found in crops, gardens and waste areas. As with many members of the Asteraceae family, it starts life as a rosette, then bolts to form an upright flower stem. Sow thistle is an annual weed which can establish at any time of the year. It is also known as puha and is eaten by some people as a vegetable. As it can grow up to 1 m tall, it can be quite a competitive weed. Its distinguishing features are that it has quite a succulent stem when it flowers, and the foliage oozes a milky sap when cut. Thought it is classed as a weed Sow Thistle is a medicinal plant native to Asia and Europe, The common name Sow thistle refers to its attractiveness to swine and the similarity of the leaf to the ear of a pig, while the oleraceus portion of the Latin name refers to its delectable nature (Sonchus refers to the hollow stem).

Another common name is Hare's Thistle which refers to its beneficial effects and attractiveness for hare and rabbits. It is also a nutritious food for humans and most livestock. It also has been ascribed medicinal qualities similar to dandelion. Leaves are usually the part which people eat, and they are used 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. Contains the minerals Calcium: 1500 mg, Phosphorus: 500 mg, Iron: 45.6 mg, Vitamins A: 35 mg, Thiamine (B1): 1.5 mg, Riboflavin (B2): 5 mg, Niacin: 5 mg, C: 60 mg.

Notice leaves are amplexicaul. (The leaf base is clasping the stem)

Flower bud infested with aphids.

Common sow thistle seed puff

Common sow thistle seed puff beginning to break apart. The seed parachutes are breaking off. The wind blows seeds everywhere.

Mature leaves

The stem of Sonchus oleraceus

The plant's rosette

Rosette's leaf.

Mature leaf.

The fibrous taproot

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