Sonchus asper   Prickly Sowthistle CCC DD N

Sonchus asper whole Sonchus asper close

I wouldn't normally expect to find any flowers in late November but with so little frost in Autumn of 2004 the summer plants carried on growing. As a rule Sonchus asper will continue to grow and produce flowers throughout the winter if the temperature is high enough. This one (RHS) had grown as an weed in a late crop of sunflowers eventually abandoned by the farmer as the seeds would not ripen. Sonchus asper has to be distinguished from Sonchus oleraceus and unfortunately there appears to be a continuum from the soft leaves of Sonchus oleaceus to the dentate, prickly ones of Sonchus asper. My test is whether I can feel the leaves prickling my hand or not - yes and it is Sonchus asper.

Sonchus asper is found throughout the British Isles and Ireland including the outer islands of Shetland and St. Kilda. Only on the highest northern mountains are records few and far between.

LHS: Banks of River Itcvhen, Southampton 7th October 2004 RHS: Field in Alvanley, Cheshire 22nd November 2004

Added on December 18th 2004, updated February 9th 2012

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