Sonchus oleraceus L.

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Sonchus oleraceus

Picture: Bart Wursten
Ndundu Lodge, Vumba

Sonchus oleraceus

Picture: Bart Wursten
Ndundu Lodge, Vumba

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Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Common names:
Frequency: Common
Status: Introduced
Annual herb, up to 1.2 m tall. Stems with milky latex, hollow below, blue-green, often purplish tinged, hairless but sometimes glandular. Lower leaves more or less oblanceolate in outline, up to 25 cm long, more or less deeply pinnately lobed, with broadly ovate-hastate lobes at the base, spreading but surrounding the stem; margins coarsely toothed with softly spiny teeth. Upper leaves narrower and smaller, sometimes not pinnately lobed but with large spreading auricles at the base. Capitula stalked, many in a large terminal inflorescence. Involucres up to 13 mm long and c. 10 mm wide, broadly cylindrical and white woolly when young, later spreading and more or less hairless, beboming swollen in fruit. Bracts many seriate, narrowly lanceolate, from 3 mm on the outside to 13 mm long on the inside, blue-green, hairless or sometimes with glandular setae. Florets numerous, all strap-shaped, c. 5,5 mm long, yellow. Achenes narrowly obovoid, c. 3 mm long, many-ribbed, light to reddish-brown; pappus with down-like white hairs and barbellate setae.
Type location:
Derivation of specific name: oleraceus: vegetable-garden herb used in cooking
Habitat: In gardens, on roadsides and other disturbed places.
Altitude range:
Flowering time:All year
Worldwide distribution: A native of Europe and North Africa but now a near cosmopolitan weed.
Zambian distribution (Flora Zambesiaca): W,C,S
Zambian distribution (Provinces): Lk
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Burrows, J.E. & Willis, C.K. (eds) (2005). Plants of the Nyika Plateau Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 31 SABONET, Pretoria Page 107. (Includes a picture).

Chapano, C. & Mugarisanwa, N.H. (2003). Plants of the Matobo District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 33.

Da Silva, M.C., Izidine, S. & Amude, A.B. (2004). A preliminary checklist of the vascular plants of Mozambique. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 30 Sabonet, Pretoria Page 146.

Kirby, G. (2013). Wild Flowers of Southeast Botswana Struik Nature, Cape Town South Africa Page 149. (Includes a picture).

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 28.

Phiri, P.S.M. (2005). A Checklist of Zambian Vascular Plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 32 Page 33.

Pope, G.V. (1992). Compositae Flora Zambesiaca 6(1) Pages 225 - 229. (Includes a picture).

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 38.

Van Wyk, B. & Malan, S. (1988). Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of the Witwatersrand and Pretoria Region Struik, Cape Town Pages 120 - 121. (Includes a picture).

Vernon, R. (1983). Field Guide to Important Arable Weeds of Zambia Dept. of Agriculture, Chilanga, Zambia Pages 94 - 95. As Sonchus

Wild, H. (1955). Common Rhodesian Weeds Government of Rhodesia, Salisbury Page 75. (Includes a picture).

Wursten, B., Timberlake, J. & Darbyshire, I. (2017). The Chimanimani Mountains: an updated checklist. Kirkia 19(1) Page 89.

Other sources of information about Sonchus oleraceus:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Sonchus oleraceus
Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Sonchus oleraceus
Flora of Malawi: Sonchus oleraceus
Flora of Mozambique: Sonchus oleraceus
Flora of Zimbabwe: Sonchus oleraceus

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Sonchus oleraceus
African Plant Database: Sonchus oleraceus
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Sonchus oleraceus
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Sonchus oleraceus
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Sonchus oleraceus
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Sonchus oleraceus
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Sonchus oleraceus
JSTOR Plant Science: Sonchus oleraceus
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Sonchus oleraceus
Plants of the World Online: Sonchus oleraceus
Tropicos: Sonchus oleraceus
Wikipedia: Sonchus oleraceus

Copyright: Mike Bingham, Annette Willemen, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Mark Hyde, 2011-24

Bingham, M.G., Willemen, A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. and Hyde, M.A. (2024). Flora of Zambia: Species information: Sonchus oleraceus., retrieved 19 July 2024

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