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Useful Tropical Plants

Sonchus oleraceus

L.

Asteraceae

+ Synonyms

Sonchus gracilis Sennen

Sonchus spinulifolius Sennen

Sonchus tenerrimus angustissimus (H.Lindb.) Jahand. & Maire

Sonchus angustissimus Hook.f.

Sonchus angustissimus H.Lindb.

Sonchus asper P.Gaertn. et al.

Sonchus australis Hort. ex Trev.

Sonchus ciliatus Lam.

Sonchus fabrae Sennen

Sonchus glaber Gilib.

Sonchus lacerus Willd.

Sonchus laevis Vill.

Sonchus longifolius Trev.

Sonchus macrotus Fenzl

Sonchus pallescens Panc.

Sonchus parviflorus Lej. ex Rchb.

Sonchus reversus E.Mey. ex DC.

Sonchus rivularis Phil.

Sonchus roseus Besser ex Spreng.

Sonchus royleanus DC.

Sonchus runcinatus (Fiori) Zenari

Sonchus schimperi A.Braun & Bouché

Sonchus schmidianus K.Koch

Sonchus subbipinnatifidus (Guss.) Zenari

Sonchus sundaicus Blume

Sonchus tenerrimus Schur

Sonchus umbellifer Thunb.

Sonchus zacinthoides DC.

Sonchus asper hydrophilus (Boulos) J.Kost.

Common Name: Sow Thistle

Sonchus oleraceus
Flowering plant
Photograph by: Fagg, M.
Image credit to Australian National Botanic Gardens
Sonchus oleraceus Sonchus oleraceus Sonchus oleraceus Sonchus oleraceus Sonchus oleraceus Sonchus oleraceus

General Information

Sonchus oleraceus is an annual to biennial plant that can grow up to 140cm tall. The stem can be simple or branched[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
This plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine. It is sometimes traded in local markets. It has been cultivated on a small scale for its edible leaves in several countries[
153
Title
Economic Native Plants of New Zealand.
Publication
 
Author
Brooker. S. G., Cambie. R. C. and Cooper. R. C.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1991
ISBN
0-19-558229-2
Description
An interesting and readable book on the useful plants of New Zealand.
,
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Known Hazards

The white latex in the plant is suspected of being mildly poisonous, and rare cases of poisoning of lambs (in Somalia) and horses (in Australia) have been attributed to it[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Botanical References

17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.

Range

Europe, including Britain, south and east from Scandanavia to N. Africa, N. and W. Asia. A cosmopolitan weed.

Habitat

Waysides, waste and cultivated ground[
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
]. A common weed, avoiding acid soils and shady positions[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
]. Mainly found in disturbed localities, including farmland, abandoned fields and recently burned fields, at elevations up to 2,650 metres[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
HabitAnnual/Biennial
Height1.00 m
PollinatorsBees, Flies
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details


Succeeds in most soils in a sunny position.
Sonchus oleraceus is a common garden weed producing many small light seeds that disperse readily by wind and water, often for long distances. It has spread from temperate Europe to become a weed in most parts of the world.

Edible Uses

Young leaves - raw or cooked[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
,
9
Title
Edible and Medicinal Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Launert. E.
Publisher
Hamlyn
Year
1981
ISBN
0-600-37216-2
Description
Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.
,
13
Title
Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Triska. Dr.
Publisher
Hamlyn
Year
1975
ISBN
0-600-33545-3
Description
Very interesting reading, giving some details of plant uses and quite a lot of folk-lore.
,
54
Title
How to Enjoy your Weeds.
Publication
 
Author
Hatfield. A. W.
Publisher
Frederick Muller Ltd
Year
1977
ISBN
0-584-10141-4
Description
Interesting reading.
]. This species has the nicest tasting leaves of the genus[
153
Title
Economic Native Plants of New Zealand.
Publication
 
Author
Brooker. S. G., Cambie. R. C. and Cooper. R. C.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1991
ISBN
0-19-558229-2
Description
An interesting and readable book on the useful plants of New Zealand.
], they usually have a mild agreeable flavour[
217
Title
Les Salades Sauvages
Publication
 
Author
Les Ecologistes de l'Euzière
Publisher
Not given.
Year
1994
ISBN
2-906128-04-X
Description
A lovely little book about some wild salads in France. Written in French.
] especially when young, though turn bitter as they age[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
,
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. They can be added to salads, cooked like spinach or used in soups etc[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. The leaves contain about 30 - 40mg of vitamin C per 100g[
173
Title
Native Edible Plants of New Zealand.
Publication
 
Author
Crowe. A.
Publisher
Hodder and Stoughton
Year
1990
ISBN
0-340-508302
Description
A very well written and illustrated book based on the authors own experiments with living on a native diet.
], 1.2% protein, 0.3% fat, 2.4% carbohydrate, 1.2% ash[
179
Title
Famine Foods listed in the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao.
Publication
 
Author
Reid. B. E.
Publisher
Southern Materials Centre; Taipei
Year
1977
ISBN
-
Description
A translation of an ancient Chinese book on edible wild foods. Fascinating.
]. A zero moisture analysis is also available[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
]. It might be best, though it is not essential, to remove the marginal prickles[
9
Title
Edible and Medicinal Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Launert. E.
Publisher
Hamlyn
Year
1981
ISBN
0-600-37216-2
Description
Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.
].

Stems - cooked like asparagus or rhubarb[
12
Title
Britain's Wild Larder.
Publication
 
Author
Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P.
Publisher
David & Charles; Newton Abbot.
Year
 
ISBN
0-7153-7971-2
Description
A handy pocket guide.
]. They are best if the outer skin is removed first[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
].

Young root - cooked[
12
Title
Britain's Wild Larder.
Publication
 
Author
Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P.
Publisher
David & Charles; Newton Abbot.
Year
 
ISBN
0-7153-7971-2
Description
A handy pocket guide.
]. Young roots are juicy[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. They are woody and not very acceptable[
144
Title
Wild Food in Australia.
Publication
 
Author
Cribb. A. B. and J. W.
Publisher
Fontana
Year
1976
ISBN
0-00-634436-4
Description
A very good pocket guide.
].

The milky sap has been used as a chewing gum by the Maoris of New Zealand[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
].

Medicinal

The plant is emmenagogue and hepatic[
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
]. An infusion has been used to bring on a tardy menstruation and to treat diarrhoea[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].

The latex in the sap is used in the treatment of opium addiction, warts and cancer[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
,
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The gum has been used as a cure for the opium habit[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].

The stem juice is a powerful hydrogogue and cathartic, it should be used with great caution since it can cause colic and tenesmus[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].

The leaves are said to clear infections, and are diuretic, hepatic, sedative and stomachic[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. They are also used in the treatment of eye problems, gastritis, salmonella infection, kwashiorkor and anaemia[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The leaves are applied as a poultice to inflammatory swellings[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
].
The use of leaf sap to treat earache and deafness is probably effective in cases where excessive amounts of earwax are the underlying cause of the problem[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

An infusion of the leaves and roots is febrifuge and tonic[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
].

The roots are abortifacient, purgative and vermifuge[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Callus cultures of the plant have shown broad spectrum antibacterial activity[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The aqueous extract demonstrated acaricidal activity against the two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant is a good companion for onions, tomatoes, corn as well as the cucumber and squash family[
14
Title
Complete Guide to Herbs.
Publication
 
Author
Holtom. J. and Hylton. W.
Publisher
Rodale Press
Year
1979
ISBN
0-87857-262-7
Description
A good herbal.
].

Other Uses

The latex in the stem contains 0.14% rubber, but this is much too low for commercial exploitation[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].

Propagation

Seed - sow in situ. Germination can take place at temperatures ranging from 7°c to over 35°c[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. This species is a common garden weed and should not need any encouragement.
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2019-08-23. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Sonchus+oleraceus>

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