Plants photographed on Kyffhäuser
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Sonchus oleraceus L.


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Sonchus oleraceus

Image 1
Milky sap
25 Mar 2008

Sonchus oleraceus

Image 2
Leaves
25 Mar 2008

Sonchus oleraceus

Image 3
Leaf clasping stem
25 Mar 2008

Sonchus oleraceus

Image 4
Flower and leaves
25 Mar 2008

Sonchus oleraceus

Image 5
Flower
25 Mar 2008

Sonchus oleraceus

Image 6
Flower
25 Mar 2008



Family: Asteraceae
Full name: Sonchus oleraceus L.
ID status: Fairly certain
Afrikaans common name(s): Gewone sydissel, Sydissel, Suidissel, Melkdissel
English common name(s): Milk thistle, Sowthistle, Common sowthistle, Smooth sowthistle, Thistle
Synonym(s): Sonchus gracilis Sennen - non Phil.-- needs further study uncertain synonymy.
Sonchus oleraceus L. subsp. angustissimus H.Lindb.
Sonchus oleraceus L. subsp. oleraceus
Sonchus oleraceus L. var. integrifolius Wallr.
Sonchus oleraceus L. var. lacerus Wallr.
Sonchus oleraceus L. var. triangularis Wallr.
Sonchus spinulifoius Sennen
Status: Native
Description: Tall annual weed (up to 1.2 m). A native of Europe and North Africa but now a near cosmopolitan weed. (from Flora of Zimbabwe website)

Annual; stem erect, terete, glabrous, or sprinkled with gland-tipped bristles near the summit and on the involucres; cauline leaves ear-clasping at base, sharply ciliate-toothed, polymorphous, either undivided, runcinate, lyrate or deeply pinnatifid; inv. and pedicels glabrous or rarely glandular; inv. after flowering conical, finally reflexed; achenes compressed or flattened, finely striate, longitudinally the striæ rough or smooth. The common sowthistle. There are evidently two 'races' of this plant, known by the characters of fruit above described; but they grow often intermixed, nor is there any permanent character of foliage to distinguish them. I therefore perfer to leave the species as Linnæus had it. (from JSTOR Global Plants website / Flora Capensis)

Annual or biennial herb, 0.1–1.4 m high; stems (glaucous) green with reddish or purplish tinge, slightly succulent, hollow, stout and erect, glabrous or sometimes glandular-setose near the inflorescence. Leaves dull green, often glaucous beneath, (ob)lanceolate in outline, entire to pinnatilobed, 4–30 x 1–9(–17) cm wide, base amplexicaul, auriculate with sagittate auricles, midrib narrowly winged and toothed, lobes few, reflexed, coarsely dentate, sometimes with spinulose teeth, the apical lobe ovate-hastate, glabrous; distal leaves becoming smaller and less lobed to subentire. Capitula few to many in lax leafy corymbs or panicles; involucre 10–13 mm long; phyllaries green with paler tips, the outer becoming swollen at base. Florets many; corolla yellow, tube cylindric, 6–7.5 mm long, ligule 5.5–6 mm long. Achenes (reddish-)brown, narrowly obovoid, slightly flattened, 2.5–4 mm long, ribbed, minutely muricate; pappus white, 7–8 mm long. (from JSTOR Global Plants website / Flora Somalia)

A coarse erect annual herb 1-3 ft. high with a milky sap and occasionally with glandular hairs on stems and peduncles; florets yellow;a weed. (from JSTOR Global Plants website / Flora of West Tropical Africa)

Annual or biennial herb, 0.1–1.4 m high; stems (glaucous) green with reddish or purplish tinge, slightly succulent, hollow, stout and erect, simple or branched, ridged, glabrous or sometimes glandular-setose near the inflorescence. Leaves dull green, often glaucous beneath, (ob-)lanceolate in outline, entire to pinnatilobed, 4–30 cm long, 1–9(–17) cm wide, base amplexicaul, auriculate with sagittate auricles, blade pinnatilobed to pinnatipartite, midrib narrowly winged and toothed, lobes few, reflexed, coarsely dentate, sometimes with spinulose teeth, the apical lobe ovate-hastate, apex rounded or acute, glabrous; distal leaves becoming smaller and less lobed to subentire. Capitula few to many in lax leafy corymbs or panicles; involucre 10–13 mm long; phyllaries green with paler tips, lanceolate, 2.5–13 mm long, obtuse, glabrous but for the ciliate apex, or rarely glandular-setose on the midrib, the outer becoming swollen at base. Florets many; corolla yellow, tube cylindric, 6–7.5 mm long, ligule 5.5–6 mm long. Achenes (reddish)brown, narrowly obovoid, slightly flattened, 2.5–4 mm long, ribbed, minutely muricate; pappus white, 7–8 mm long. (from JSTOR Global Plants website / Flora of Tropical East Africa)

A stout erect annual herb. Stem up to c. 150 cm tall, simple or sparsely branched in the upper half, leafy hollow usually reddish-tinged often glaucous, stem and branches glabrous or sometimes densely glandular-setose and somewhat viscid, setae up to c. 1 mm long patent purplish; branches up to c. 45 cm long ascending. Lower leaves crowded, up to c. 28 x 9 cm, oblanceolate in outline, usually pinnately-lobed to coarsely runcinate-pinnatipartite, each with a broadly ovate-hastate apical lobe rounded to acute at the apex; margins usually coarsely and somewhat irregularly dentate with spinulose-acicular teeth; midrib narrowly winged, auriculate and semi-amplexicaul below; auricles sagittate-spreading, entire to dentate. Upper leaves sessile, smaller, lanceolate, deeply lobed to subentire, coarsely and sharply dentate on the margins, basal auricles usually large with acute spreading lobes. All leaves spathulate at first, often deeply laciniate in depauperate specimens. Capitula stalked, many in corymbiform cymes, stalks glabrous or glandular-setose; involucres up to c. 13 mm long and 10 mm in diam., very broadly cylindrical later spreading, densely white tomentose below soon glabrescent, involucre becoming swollen in fruiting capitula. Phyllaries many-seriate imbricate increasing in length from c. 3 mm on the outside to c. 13 mm inside, narrowly lanceolate, glaucous, glabrous except for ciliate apicies and occasionally 1-several large glandular-setae up to c. 2 mm long along the midrib, the midribs below becoming swollen and corky. Florets numerous; corollas yellow up to c. 13 mm long, tube slender and pubescent above, ligule c. 5.5 mm long and strap-shaped. Achenes light to reddish-brown, up to c. 3 x 1 mm, narrowly obovoid and somewhat flattened, uniformly many-ribbed; ribs minutely muricate with numerous retrorse projections. Pappus white copious c. 7 mm long, composed of barbellate setae intermixed with down-like hairs. (from JSTOR Global Plants website / Flora Zambesiaca)
Link(s) African Plant Database
JSTOR Plant Science
Kew Herbarium Catalogue
BGBM Berlin-Dahlem - Virtual Herbarium
Züricher Herbarien
iNaturalist (Namibia / Alex Dreyer)
iNaturalist (Namibia)
iNaturalist (southern Africa)
Flora of Zimbabwe
Fleurs de notre Terre - Galerie Namibie
Tree Atlas of Namibia
Content last updated: 01 Jun 2020


Note: The identification of some of the plants on this website is not 100% certain. Any comments will be highly appreciated. I would also be willing to supply higher resolution images upon request. Please contact me at the e-mail address given below.

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