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

Sonchus asper (Prickly Sow Thistle)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Cichorieae
Species: S. asper
Binomial name: Sonchus asper
Common name: Prickly Sow Thistle, Sharp-fringed Sow Thistle, Spiny Sow Thistle, Spiny-leaved 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)

Sonchus asper is an annual plant (native to Europe) that may reach as much as 180cm in height with spiny leaves and yellow flowers resembling those of the dandelion. The leaves are bluish-green, simple, lanceolate, with wavy and sometimes lobed margins, covered in spines on both the margins and beneath. The base of the leaf surrounds the stem. The leaves and stems emit a milky sap when cut. The flowers grow in clusters and the end of the stems.

Spiny sow thistle is primarily a weed of landscapes, pastures, hay fields, orchards, and roadsides. Its edible leaves make a palatable and nutritious leaf vegetable. (see Sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) for Nutritional details)

Care should be exercised when weeding or handling the plant. Many people report irritations ranging from burning sensations, redness, and mild to severe rashes when coming in contact with the spines. Hands should be washedimmediately after handling the plant, as the chemical irritant can spread easily via contact to other parts of the body, in a similar way to poison ivy.

The prickly leaves of Sonchus asper

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