Sonchus oleraceus

Scientific Name Sonchus oleraceus L.
Common Names English: Smooth sowthistle, common sowthistle; German: Kohl-Gänsedistel; French: Laiteron maraîcher; Spanish: Lechuguilla
Description Annual, lactiferous, seed-propagated weed with strong, cone-shaped taproot. S. oleraceus produces latex and is a preferred feed for birds, chicken and geese.

Descriptions

Characteristic Features

Flower heads light yellow to greenish yellow (Sonchus arvensis: intensive yellow). Leaves and stems contain milky sap. Soft, floppy, shiny, greasy, bluegreen leaves.

Young Plant

Round, often flat and sinuate in front, light green, entire, petiolate.

Stems

Erect, thick, ramified, up to 80 - 100 cm (2.62 - 3.28 ft) tall.

Leaves

First leaves nearly circular, with fine teeth; following leaves runcinate-pinnatifid or undivided, soft, blue-green, enclosing the stalk sagittately, prickly dentate.

Propagatio Organs

Flowers

Flower heads (only labial flowers) light yellow to greenish yellow.
Capitulums and peduncles without glandular hairs.

Flowering Period

Early summer - autumn.

Fruit

Achene, brownish, oval/oblong, sometimes curved.

Seeds

Germination primarily in spring.
Shallow germinator (up to 2 cm; 0.78 inch).
Seeds are brown, wrinkled and unwinged.

Viability Of Seeds

Up to 8 years and more.

Propagation

By seed.
Approx. 4,000-5,000 seeds/plant.
Seeds are dispersed by wind.
Usually fresh seeds are not dormant.

Occurrence

Habitat

Waysides, wasteland, cultivated ground, and even at roadsides and pavement.

Soil

Primarily on humus-rich, chalky, mild soils well-supplied with nutrients.

Agricultural Importance

S. arvensis is less competitive than Sonchus asper. It only leads to a moderate yield reduction and is easy to control in corn and cereals.

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