by Stephen Mifsud
   19 Apr 2024      ()
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Sonchus oleraceus   (Smooth Sow Thistle)

Sonchus oleraceus  (ASTERACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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General Information Species Images
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Detailed species profile
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Profile Date Mar-2003 (taxon update: Mar-2003)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Sonchus oleraceus - datasheet created on Mar-2003. Retrieved from on 19-Apr-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Sonchus oleraceusL.
Published in Sp. Pl. : 794 (1753)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Sonchus angustissimus Hook.f.
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Asteraceae Bercht. & J.Presl (=Compositae) (The Daisy or Sunflower Family)
123 species from the Asteraceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Smooth Sow Thistle, Annual Sow Thistle, Common Sow Thistle

Maltese name(s) :

Tfiefa komuni

Status for Malta :

Indigenous. Present on the Maltese islands before man

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent    Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: THEROPHYTE ( annual plants, herbaceous )
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

October – July

Colour of Flowers:



Not particularly toxic

Name Derivation :

Sonchus: A very old Greek name used for several sow-thistle plants. (Greek origin )
oleraceus: used for cooking as a vegetable or herb, but often used to indicate that it is edible. ( )

Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Cultivated ground and waste places
Preferred habitat in Malta: Common in various habitats, somewhat prefering artificial habitats such as disturbed ground, steppe, footpaths and roadsides, abandoned gardens and fields, walls (including rubble walls) farmhouses, polluted ares, irrigated fields, etc
Botanical Description: Annual or biennial; stem 10-140 cm, simple or branched, often glandular-hairy in upper part and sometimes white-tomentose at base of capitula and on upper part of peduncles. Leaves glabrous, the lower undivided, with narrowly winged petiole, the upper larger, pinnatifid to pinnatisect, lyrate or sometimes runcinate with the lobes not or only slightly constricted at the base, with acute auricles. Involucral bracts 27-35. Ligules about as long as corolla-tube. Achenes 2.5-3.75 x 0.75-1 mm, oblanceolate, rugose between the ribs, weakly compressed; pappus 5-8 mm, more or less persistent.
Chromosome number: 2n=32
Distributional range: Almost throughout Europe

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
All Europe except Faroe Islands, Iceland, Svalbard archipelago
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
Ab(A N) AE(G T) Ag Al Ar Au(A L) Be(B L) BH Bl(I M N) Br Bu By dCa(C F G H L P T) Cg Co Cr Cs Ct Cy Da Eg Es Fe Ga(C F M) Ge Gg Gr Hb(E N) He Ho Hs(A G S) Hu Ir It Jo La Le Li Lt Lu Ma dMd(D M P) Mk Mo No Po Rf(C CS E K N NW S) Rm Sa dSg Si(M S) Sk Sl Sn Sr Su Sy Tn Tu(A E) Uk(K U) [Ag Az(C F G J L M P S T) aIs]

Links & Further literature (0 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (47 images)
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-0.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-1.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-2.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-3.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-4.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-5.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-6.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-7.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-8.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-9.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-10.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-11.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-12.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-13.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-14.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-15.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-16.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-17.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-18.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-19.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-20.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-21.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-22.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-23.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-24.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-25.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-26.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-27.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-28.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-29.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-30.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-31.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-32.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-33.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-34.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-35.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-36.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-37.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-38.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-39.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-40.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-41.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-42.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-43.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-44.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-45.
   Sonchus oleraceus   -   Image Code: SNCOL-46.

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