Sonchus asper (L.) Hill
The words or terms in red
(actually dark orange) in the text are defined in a
Sonchus asper is an introduced plant
native to Eurasia.
It is an annual,
growing 0.4 to 1.5 m tall.
Its stems branch near the top.
Its leaves, which have weak marginal
prickles, clasp the stem.
Plants contain a bitter milky juice.
Flowers are golden-yellow, up to 25 mm (1 inch) broad.
It is spread entirely by seed.
The plant belongs to the
Many sources, copied from one another ? say that the genus name
is from the Greek sonchos, the plant's initial name, and means
hollow in reference to the stems.
I checked in my Dictionnaire Grec Français by Anatole Bailly,
also called Le Grand Bailly, one of the quite renowned
dictionary of classical Greek, and I could not find one entry starting in
σον (son) or
σων (sôn), so...
In Latin, asper means rough, harsh, rugged and refers
to the prickles on the leaves margins.
Some of the vernacular names of
Sonchus asper are:
Sowthistle, Prickly Sowthistle, Spiny-leaf Sow-thistle,
Spiny-leaved Sow Thistle and Spiny Sowthistle.
Some of the French common names are:
Chaudronnet, Laiteron épineux, Laiteron rude, Laiteron maraîcher.
Pyrola chlorantha has also been known as:
- Picrosia australis Decne. in Orb.
- Picrosia longifolia D. Don
- Picrosia runcinata Gill. ex Hook. & Arn.
- Prenanthes subdentata Hook.
- Sonchus asper (L.) Hill forma glandulosus Hauman
- Sonchus asper (L.) Hill forma inermis (Bisch.) Beck.
- Sonchus eryngiifolius Sosn. ex Grossh.
- Sonchus fallax Wallr.
- Sonchus ferox Wall.
- Sonchus glaber Thunb.
- Sonchus oleraceus L. subsp. asper (L.) Ehrh.
- Sonchus oleraceus L. var. asper L.
- Sonchus parviflorus Lej. & Court.
- Sonchus spinosus Lam.
- Tragopogon fritillarioides Less.
Sonchus asper can be identified by its
prickly curled leaves,
clasping the stem at their base,
and its yellow ligulate
flower heads arranged in a small
panicle at the top of the plant.
Sonchus asper differs from other Sonchus
species by its flowering heads
less than 1 inch in diameter
and by its wrinkled achenes.
Sonchus oleraceus looks quite similar to Sonchus asper.
The difference in the two plants lies in that Sonchus oleraceus
has leaf auricles
which come to an acute point,
those of Sonchus asper are always rounded.
The lower leaves of Sonchus oleraceus are nearly always deeply
Sonchus oleraceus is a much less stout species also which can be
handled easily without injury to the person doing the handling.
The prickly leaves and big taproot
make Sonchus asper difficult at best to remove from the ground.
Sonchus asper is a prolific annual that has
- Up to 40 or more inches tall.
- Hollow (fistulose), purplish,
with a very sticky milky sap.
- Mostly unbranched below
- Clasping the stem (amplexicaul),
with rounded auricles.
- Basal leaves are larger, tapered
to generally sessile.
- Cauline leaves are smaller, sessile.
- Upper leaves still smaller,
often widest near base, strongly curved to coiled.
- Alternate, stiff,
- Measuring from 6 to 30 cm in length and from 1 to 15 cm in width.
- Lowest leaves obovate to spatulate
or somewhat lyrate-pinnatifid.
- With dentate blades,
sometimes more or less lobed.
- With somewhat wavy or crinkly
- With the teeth and lobes tipped with soft
- The auricles spiny but round at the
- Deep shiny green above, glaucous below.
- In terminal corymbose clusters.
- On peduncles about 0.5 cm long,
generally more or less
- From 0.5 to 1 inch in diameter.
- With only yellow ray florets.
- With hermaphrodite ligules
up to 6 mm long, 1.5 mm broad, 4-notched at
apex, with 5
- With an involucre
from 10 to 15 mm long, more or less 1 cm in diameter at base,
- With imbricate phyllaries,
the outer phyllaries with small prickles at apex,
shorter than the inner phyllaries;
the inner phyllaries in 3 or 4 series, up to 1.5 cm long,
glabrous, the innermost phyllaries with
or completely scarious.
- With a slightly concave receptacle.
- Blooming from June to September.
- Achenes slightly flattened,
about 3 mm long by 2 mm wide.
- 3-ribbed on each face.
- With a pappus
of numerous capillary white bristles up to 9 mm long,
that can spread the plant easily and quickly.
- Each plant can produce 26,000 seeds in one season
that are viable for up to eight years.
Sonchus asper is a
common weed and most frequently occurs on roadsides, cultivated,
waste and fallow ground, field margins, meadows, ditches,
disturbed sites, gardens and neglected areas.
It often appears in pastures and crops;
it rarely causes significant problems,
as it is readily grazed in pasture and out-competed by most crops.
Sonchus asper is found in all of North America except northern Canada.
It is also found in Europe, including Britain,
in North Africa, in northern and western Asia. The maps shows the plant
The tender young leaves and stem tops can be eaten, raw or cooked,
they can be added to salads or used like spinach.
The young leaves are said to have a mild agreeable flavour.
The stems should be bruised and the bitter-tasting
milky juice washed out before eating or cooking.
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- f for the Fuji.
- n for the Nikon.
- s for the EPSON scanner.
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