Smooth Sow-thistle - Sonchus oleraceus


Short to tall greyish plant. Upper leaves clasp the stem with triangular, leaves with pointed basal lobes. Flowerheads pale yellow 20 to 25 mm, borne in lax clusters.

Similar Species

Prickly Sow-thistle

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

Auricles of stem-leaves pointed.  Achenes transversely rugose. Leaves deeply pinnately lobed, but can be very similar to S asper

Recording advice

Photograph of stem and leaves, showing auricles


Bare and waste ground, roadsides. A weed of cultivation.

When to see it

May to November.

Life History


UK Status

Very common throughout Britain except for parts of the Scottish Highlands.

VC55 Status

Very common in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 530 of the 617 tetrads.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map