Common Sowthistle - Sonchus oleraceus
THIS PAGE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Common Sowthistle is quite common in central and northern Illinois, but less common or absent in the southern area of the state (see Distribution Map). It is native to Eurasia and North Africa. Habitats include fields, pastures, roadsides, gardens and edges of yards, vacant lots, areas adjacent tobuildings, construction sites, and waste places. Disturbed areas are strongly preferred; Common Sowthistle doesn't invade high quality natural areas to any significant degree.
Sonchus oleraceus (Common sowthistle , Sow thistle , Annual Sow Thistle, Hare's Colwort, Hare's Thistle, Milky Tassel, Swinies) is a medicinal plant native to Asia and Europe, which can be eaten by swines. This plant is cited as an invasive species.
This is one of three Sonchus spp. (Sowthistles) that is readily observed in Illinois. The common name 'Sowthistle' is a misnomer because this genus of plants is more closely related to the genus Lactuca (Wild Lettuce). Both groups of plants have a milky latex, unlike true thistles. The Common Sowthistle can be distinguished from Sonchus asper (Prickly Sowthistle) by its foliage – the former has dull green foliage with pairs of pointed lobes at the base of each leaf, while the latter has shiny green foliage with pairs of rounded lobes at the base of each leaf. Also, the leaves of Common Sowthistle are more deeply lobed and triangular-shaped than the leaves of Prickly Sowthistle. The other Sowthistle, Sonchus arvensis (Perennial Sowthistle), has larger flowerheads (about 1-2" across) and the lobes at the base of its leaves are small and rounded.
Website, video, and graphics by Rob Nelson
For more information on this plant or management please contact US Army Corp of Engineers