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

Sonchus oleraceus (Puha)

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: Puha, Sow Thistle, Hare's Thistle, Common 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 ooze 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).
An other 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 useful 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.

About 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.

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

Flower bud infestied 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 leaf

Stem of Sonchus oleraceus

The plants rosette

Rosette's leaf.

Mature leaf.

The fibrous taproot

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