Scientific Name: Sonchus asper
Synonym: Sonchus nymanii
Common Names: Spiny Sowthistle, Prickly Sow Thistle, Rough Sow-thistle, Spiny-leaf Sow-thistle
Growth Habit: Herb/Forb
Arizona Native Status: Introduced. This naturalized weed is native to Europe.
Habitat: Desert, Upland, Mountain, Riparian. It usually grows in riparian areas, but it can be found elsewhere in locations where it can get a little extra shade or water.
Flower Color: Yellow
Flowering Season: Spring, Summer, Fall. It blooms in the springtime in desert riparian areas.
Height: To 5 feet (1.5 m) tall
Description: The flower heads are dandelion-like and 1 inch (2.5 cm) across. The flowers are followed by vase-shaped seed heads. The seeds are ribbed and have a fluff of white hairs to aid in wind dispersal. The leaves have spiny-toothed margins and are green, alternate, and pinnately lobed. The upper leaves clasp the stems, while the lower leaves are more deeply lobed and toothed. The stems are upright and may be tinged reddish purple.
The similar Common Sowthistle (Sonchus oleraceus) does not have large, stout spines on the leaf margins.
Edible – The young leaves are edible either raw or cooked, but the spines must be removed.
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Family: Asteraceae – Aster family
Genus: Sonchus L. – sowthistle
Species: Sonchus asper (L.) Hill – spiny sowthistle
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