Plant Image
Flower head

Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Sonchus oleraceus - common sowthistle

Other Common Names: annual sowthistle
Plant Form: Forb or Subshrub

Family: Asteraceae

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Max Licher @, Usage Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
Max Licher @, Usage Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
Max Licher @, Usage Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
Forb Plant Description

Origin: Introduced   Life Cycle: Annual   Similar Species: Sonchus arvensis, Sonchus asper
General Desc: An erect fleshy annual 1 to 4 feet high. The Latin name Sonchus refers to the hollow stem, while oleraceus refers to its good taste.
Identification notes: Auricles of the leaves acute; achenes transversely wrinkled distinguish this plant from Sonchus asper.
Height: 1 to 4 feet


Habitat Description: Imported from Europe, grows in vacant lots, roadsides, cultivated fields, and gardens. Generally considered invasive, it can often be controlled by mowing, because it does not regrow from root fragments.
Plant Communities: Disturbed Areas
Elevation: Below 4900 feet

Flower Characteristics

Color: Yellow     Shape: Daisy or dandelion-like in round clusters     Tubular: Y     Flowering Period: Jan - Dec
Description: Flowerheads are numerous and 1/4 to 3/4 inch wide. The plant will flower throughout the year. Common pollinators include bees and flies.

Leaf and Stem Characteristics

Leaf Color: Green     Leaf Type: Simple     Leaf Shape: Round or oval     Leaf Margin: Lobed     Leaf Attachment: Basal and alternate     Leaves Clasp: Y
Hairs: No     Spines: N
Leaf Description: Tapered or wing-petioled leaves are deeply lobed on the lower portions of the plant and less so on the upper leaves. Basal leaves are stacked while the upper leaves clasp the stem. Stems are proximally branched.

Fruit and Seed Characteristics

Fruit Color: Dark brown   
Fruit Type: Achene
Fruit Notes: Fruit is flat and wrinkled on each face.
Seed Notes: Seeds are ribbed and flat with a tuft of fine hairs that allow wind-blown dissemination.

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Version 8.0  
Last Updated: Dec 13, 2022
Content Questions/Comments: Email Matt Halldorson  
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