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.

    be our species champion

    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

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

    UK Map