Sonchus arvensis   Perennial Sow-thistle CC DD N

Sonchus arvensis whole Sonchus arvensis close

The golden yellow flower heads of this plant don't look anything like its equally common cousins the Prickly (Sonchus asper) and Smooth (Sonchus oleraceus) Sow-thistles. This plant flowers in mid to late summer and is an indication that the end is nigh for the year's botanising. The distinguishing feature of this plant is the many yellow glands which over the buds, calyx and stem. You don't need a lens to see these yellow glands so numerous and distinct are they (very dark in this photo though). It will grow almost anywhere preferring wet areas but it has no prickles like Cirsium and Carduus thistles.

Sonchus arvensis is common throughout England, Wales and Ireland. It has populated southern Scotland but records diminish as you go to the far north. It is easily found on Orkney and Shetland too.

LHS: Lindisfarne 15th July 2006 RHS: Red Rocks, Wirral, 29th September 2004

Added on December 3rd 2004, updated 9th February 2012

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