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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Campanulids
Ordo: Asterales

Familia: Asteraceae
Subfamilia: Cichorioideae
Tribus: Cichorieae
Subtribus: Hyoseridinae
Genus: Sonchus
Subgenera: S. subg. Dendroseris – S. subg. Dendrosonchus – S. subg. Origosonchus – S. subg. Sonchus

Species: S. acaulis – S. adscendens – S. afromontanus – S. agrestis – S. amboinensis – S. andrenarum – S. angulatus – S. aquatilis – S. araraticus – S. arboreus – S. arvensis – S. asper – S. beltraniae –S. berteroanus – S. bipontini – S. bornmuelleri – S. bourgeaui – S. brachylobus – S. brachyotus – S. brasiliensis – S. brassicifolius – S. briquetianus – S. bulbosus – S. bupleuroides – S. camporum – S. canariensis – S. capensis – S. capillaris – S. cavanillesianus – S. cavanillesii – S. congestus – S. crassifolius – S. crepioides – S. crispus – S. daltonii – S. denticulato-lanceolata – S. denticulato-platyphylla – S. diffusus – S. dregeanus – S. dulosus – S. elongatus – S. eriopus – S. erythraeae – S. erythropappus – S. erzincanicus – S. esperanzae – S. fauces-orci – S. filifolius – S. fragilis – S. friesii – S. fruticosus – S. gandogeri – S. gibbosus – S. gigas – S. gomerensis – S. gonzalezpadronii – S. gramineus – S. grandifolius – S. gummifer – S. heterophyllus – S. hierrensis – S. hothae – S. hydrophilus – S. hypochaeroides – S. integrifolius – S. intermedius – S. jacottetianus – S. jainii – S. kirkii – S. laceratus – S. laciniatus – S. laevis – S. leptocephalus – S. lidii – S. lingianus – S. luxurians – S. macrocarpus – S. maculigerus – S. maritimus – S. masguindalii – S. mauritanicus – S. megalocarpa – S. malayanus – S. melanolepis – S. micranthus – S. microcarpus – S. microcephalus – S. monanthus – S. neglectus – S. nigricans – S. novocastellanus – S. novae-zelandiae – S. obtusilobus – S. occidentalis – S. oleraceus – S. ortunoi – S. oxyspermus – S. palmensis – S. palustris – S. pendulus – S. pensylvanicus – S. perfoliatus – S. phoeniciformis – S. pinnatifidus – S. pinnatus – S. pitardii – S. platylepis – S. pustulatus – S. radicatus – S. regis-jubae – S. rotundilobus – S. saudensis – S. schweinfurthii – S. setosus – S. sosnowskyi – S. splendens – S. stenophyllus – S. subacaulis – S. suberosus – S. tectifolius – S. tenax – S. tenerrimus – S. tigridus – S. toletanus – S. transcaspicus – S. tuberifer – S. ustulatus – S. vaginatus – S. webbii – S. wightianus – S. wildpretii – S. wilmsii – S. yendoi

Sonchus L., Sp. Pl. 2: 793. (1753)

Type species: Sonchus oleraceus L., Sp. Pl. 2: 793. (1753)


Aetheorhiza Cass., Dict. Sci. Nat., ed. 2. [F. Cuvier] 48: 425. (1827)
Type species: Aetheorhiza bulbosa (L.) Cass., Dict. Sci. Nat., ed. 2. [F. Cuvier] 48: 426. (1827)
Atalanthus D.Don, Edinb. N. Phil. Journ. 311. (1829)
Lectotype: designated by Pfeiffer, Nomencl. Bot. 1: 321. 1873) A. pinnatus (L.f.) D.Don ≡ Prenanthes pinnata L.f. = Sonchus leptocephalus Cass.
Dendroseris D.Don, Philos. Mag. Ann. Chem. 11: 388. (1832)
Type species: Dendroseris macrophylla D.Don (1832)
Thamnoseris F.Phil., Anales Univ. Chile 191. (1895)
Type species: Thamnoseris lacerata F.Phil., Anales Univ. Chile 191. (1895)
Sventenia Font Quer, Collect. Bot. (Barcelona) 2: 201. (1949)
Type species: Sventenia bupleuroides Font Quer, Collect. Bot. (Barcelona) 2: 201. (1949)
Kirkianella Allan, Fl New Zealand !: 761, 972. (1961)
Type species: Kirkianella novae-zelandiae (Hook.f.) Allan, Fl New Zealand !: 761, 972. (1961)
Babcockia Boulos, Bull. Jard. Bot. État Bruxelles 35: 64. (1965)
Type species: Babcockia platylepis (Webb) Boulos, Bull. Jard. Bot. État Bruxelles 35: 64. (1965)
Embergeria Boulos, Fl. S. Austral., ed. 2 332. (1965)
Type species: Embergeria grandifolia (Kirk) Boulos, Fl. S. Austral., ed. 2 332. (1965)
Taeckholmia Boulos (1967), nom. illeg.
Lactucosonchus (Sch.Bip.) Svent., Index Seminum Hortus Acclim. Pl. Arautap. 53. (1969)
Type species: Lactucosonchus webbii (Sch. Bip.) Svent., Index Seminum Hortus Acclim. Pl. Arautap. 53. (1969)
Wildpretia U.Reifenb. & A.Reifenb. (1996), nom. illeg.
Actites Lander, Telopea 1(2): 130. (1976)
Type species: Actites megalocarpa (Hook.f.) Lander, Telopea 1(2): 130. (1976)
Chrysoprenanthes (Sch.Bip.) Bramwell, Bot. Macaron., IV Ci. 24: 182. (2003)
Type species: Chrysoprenanthes pendula (Webb) Bramwell, Bot. Macaron., IV Ci. 24: 182. (2003)


Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum 2: 793.
Kim, S.-C., Chunghee, L. & Mejías, J.A. 2007. Phylogenetic analysis of chloroplast DNA matK gene and ITS of nrDNA sequences reveals polyphyly of the genus Sonchus and new relationships among the subtribe Sonchinae (Asteraceae: Cichorieae. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 44(2): 578–597. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2007.03.014 PDF Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2019. Sonchus. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2019. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2019 Mar. 23. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2018. Sonchus. Published online. Accessed: Nov. 7 2018.

Vernacular names
Afrikaans: Sydissels
العربية: تفاف, جعضيض
беларуская: Асот
català: Lletsó, Lletsons, Llicsó, Llicsons
čeština: mléč
чӑвашла: Пиçен
dansk: Svinemælk
Deutsch: Gänsedisteln, Gänsedistel
English: Sowthistle
Esperanto: Sonko, Laktokardo
eesti: Piimaohakas
euskara: Gardabera
suomi: Valvatit
français: Laiteron
Gaeilge: Slóchtán
հայերեն: կաթնբեկ
日本語: ノゲシ属, ハチジョウナ属
қазақша: Қалуен
한국어: 방가지똥속
lietuvių: Pienė
Nederlands: Melkdistel
norsk nynorsk: Dylle
polski: Mlecz, Łyczoga
Runa Simi: Kanachu, Khana, Kita k'ana, Qasaqaña
русский: Осот
slovenčina: mlieč
svenska: Molkesläktet, Molkar, Lonkesläktet
українська: Осот
Tiếng Việt: Actites
中文(简体): 苦苣菜属
中文(繁體): 苦苣菜屬
中文: 苦苣菜属

Sonchus is a genus of flowering plants in the dandelion tribe within the sunflower family Asteraceae[2][4] and are commonly known as sow thistles (less commonly hare thistles or hare lettuces). Sowthistles are annual, biennial or perennial herbs, with or without rhizomes and a few are even woody (subgenus Dendrosonchus, restricted to the Canary Islands and Madeira).[5][6][7][8][9]

Sonchus hierrensis in the Canary Island of La Gomera.

The genus is named after the Ancient Greek for such plants. All are characterized by soft, somewhat irregularly lobed leaves that clasp the stem and, at least initially, form a basal rosette. The stem contains a milky latex. Flower heads are yellow and range in size from half to one inch in diameter; the florets are all of ray type. Sonchus fruits are single-seeded, dry and indehiscent.[10] Sow thistles are common roadside plants, and while native to Eurasia and tropical Africa, they are found almost worldwide in temperate regions.[11]

Mature sow thistle stems can range from 30 cm to 2 m (1 to 6 ft) tall, depending upon species and growing conditions. Coloration ranges from green to purple in older plants. Sow thistles exude a milky latex when any part of the plant is cut or damaged, and it is from this fact that the plants obtained the common name, "sow thistle", as they were fed to lactating sows in the belief that milk production would increase. Sow thistles are known as "milk thistles" in some regions, although true milk thistles belong to the genus Silybum.


Sonchus acaulis
Sonchus adscendens
Sonchus afromontanus
Sonchus agrestis
Sonchus amboinensis
Sonchus andrenarum
Sonchus angulatus
Sonchus aquatilis
Sonchus araraticus
Sonchus arboreus
Sonchus arvensis – field or perennial sow thistle
Sonchus asper – spiny sow thistle, sharp-fringed sow thistle, prickly sow-thistle, or spiny-leaved sow thistle
Sonchus bipontini
Sonchus bornmuelleri – Bornmueller's sow-thistle
Sonchus bourgeaui
Sonchus brachylobus
Sonchus brachylobus
Sonchus brachyotus
Sonchus brasiliensis
Sonchus briquetianus
Sonchus bupleuroides
Sonchus camporum
Sonchus canariensis
Sonchus capensis
Sonchus capillaris
Sonchus cavanillesianus
Sonchus cavanillesii
Sonchus congestus
Sonchus crassifolius
Sonchus crepioides
Sonchus crispus
Sonchus daltonii
Sonchus denticulato-lanceolata
Sonchus denticulato-platyphylla
Sonchus diffusus
Sonchus dregeanus
Sonchus dulosus
Sonchus elongatus
Sonchus eriopus
Sonchus erythraeae
Sonchus erythropappus
Sonchus erzincanicus
Sonchus esperanzae
Sonchus fauces-orci
Sonchus fragilis
Sonchus friesii
Sonchus fruticosus
Sonchus gandogeri
Sonchus gibbosus
Sonchus gigas
Sonchus gomerensis
Sonchus gramineus
Sonchus grandifolius
Sonchus gummifer
Sonchus haussknechtii
Sonchus heterophyllus
Sonchus hierrensis
Sonchus hothae
Sonchus hydrophilus[12]
Sonchus hypochaeroides
Sonchus integrifolius
Sonchus intermedius
Sonchus jacottetianus
Sonchus jainii
Sonchus kirkii – puha or rauriki
Sonchus laciniatus
Sonchus leptocephalus
Sonchus lidii
Sonchus lingianus
Sonchus littoralis
Sonchus luxurians
Sonchus macrocarpus
Sonchus maculigerus
Sonchus malayanus
Sonchus maritimus
Sonchus masguindalii
Sonchus mauritanicus
Sonchus megalocarpa
Sonchus melanolepis
Sonchus microcarpus
Sonchus microcephalus
Sonchus monanthus
Sonchus nanus
Sonchus neglectus
Sonchus nigricans
Sonchus novae-zelandiae
Sonchus novocastellanus
Sonchus obtusilobus
Sonchus obtusilobus
Sonchus occidentalis
Sonchus oleraceus – common sow thistle, smooth sow thistle, annual sow thistle
Sonchus ortunoi
Sonchus oxyspermus
Sonchus palmensis – La Palma sow-thistle
Sonchus palustris – marsh sowthistle
Sonchus parathalassius
Sonchus pendulus
Sonchus pensylvanicus
Sonchus perfoliatus
Sonchus pinnatifidus
Sonchus pinnatus
Sonchus pitardii
Sonchus platylepis
Sonchus prudhommei
Sonchus pustulatus
Sonchus radicatus
Sonchus regis-jubae
Sonchus rokosensis
Sonchus rotundilobus
Sonchus saudensis
Sonchus schweinfurthii
Sonchus setosus
Sonchus sosnowskyi
Sonchus stenophyllus
Sonchus subacaulis
Sonchus suberosus
Sonchus sventenii
Sonchus tectifolius
Sonchus tenax
Sonchus tenerrimus[12] – slender sow thistle
Sonchus tigridus
Sonchus toletanus
Sonchus transcaspicus
Sonchus tuberifer
Sonchus ustulatus
Sonchus vaginatus
Sonchus wightianus
Sonchus webbii
Sonchus wildpretii
Sonchus wilmsii – milk thistle
Sonchus yendoi

Sonchus tenerrimus and Sonchus oleraceus infest many crops in Italy, especially in the Southern area of the peninsula. They are considered tasty edible plants and are cooked with spaghetti and meatballs.

In many areas sow thistles are considered noxious weeds,[13] as they grow quickly in a wide range of conditions and their wind-borne seeds allow them to spread rapidly. Sonchus arvensis, the perennial sow thistle, is considered the most economically detrimental, as it can crowd commercial crops, is a heavy consumer of nitrogen in soils, may deplete soil water of land left to fallow, and can regrow and sprout additional plants from its creeping roots. However, sow thistles are easily uprooted by hand, and their soft stems present little resistance to slashing or mowing.

Most livestock will readily devour sow thistle in preference to grass, and this lettuce-relative is edible and nutritious to humans—in fact this is the meaning of the second part of the Latin name of the common sow thistle, oleraceus.[14] Attempts at weed control by herbicidal use, to the neglect of other methods, may have led to a proliferation of these species in some environments.[15]

Sow thistles are common host plants for aphids. Gardeners may consider this a benefit or a curse; aphids may spread from sow thistle to other plants, but alternatively the sow thistle can encourage the growth of beneficial predators such as hoverflies. In this regard sow thistles make excellent sacrificial plants. Sonchus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera including Celypha rufana and the broad-barred white, grey chi, nutmeg, and shark moths . The fly Tephritis formosa is known to attack the capitula of this plant.[16]

Sow thistles have been used as fodder, particularly for rabbits, hence the other common names of "hare thistle" or "hare lettuce". They are also edible to humans as a leaf vegetable; old leaves and stalks can be bitter but young leaves have a flavour similar to lettuce. Going by the name puha or rareke (raraki) it is frequently eaten in New Zealand as a vegetable, particularly by the native Māori. When cooked the flavour is reminiscent of chard

The greens were eaten by the indigenous people of North America. Edible raw when young, the older greens can also be eaten after cooking briefly.[17]

Lectotype designated by N. L. Britton & A. Brown, Ill. Fl. N.U.S. ed. 2. 3: 316 (1913).
"Sonchus L.". Tropicos. Missouri Botanical Garden.
Flann, C (ed) 2009+ Global Compositae Checklist
Linnaeus, Carl von. 1753. Species Plantarum 2: 793-795 in Latin
For a recent review of woody species, see Seung-Chul Kim et al. (1996). "A common origin for woody Sonchus and five related genera in the Macaronesian islands: Molecular evidence for extensive radiation." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 93:7743-7748.
Shi, Zhu; Kilian, Norbert. "Sonchus". Flora of China. Vol. 20–21 – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Altervista Flora Italiana genere Sonchus photos and distribution maps for several species
Atlas of Living Australia
Flora Zambesiaca
R., Walters, Dirk (2006). Vascular plant taxonomy. Keil, David J., Murrell, Zack E. (5th ed.). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Pub. Co. ISBN 0757512143. OCLC 62889410.
Hyatt, Philip E. (2006). "Sonchus". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). Vol. 19. New York and Oxford – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
"Sonchus". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government, Canberra. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Sonchus arvensis". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team.
Arthur Lee Jacobson website Archived September 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
Management of common sow thistle, Queensland Government
White, I.M. (1984). Tephritid Flies (Diptera: Tephritidea). Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects. Vol. 10 pt 5a. Royal Entomological Society of London. pp. 134 pp. ISBN 0901546682.
Angier, Bradford (1974). Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books. p. 208. ISBN 0-8117-0616-8. OCLC 799792.

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