Prickly Sow Thistle is a
annual plant of the UK, typically found growing in grassland, roadsides and waste ground, to a mature height of up to 100cm.
The Prickly Sow Thistle is called 'Prickly' to distinguish it from the Smooth Sow Thistle, which has smooth leaves. Prickly Sow Thistle takes its name from the thistle-like appearance of its leaves and its traditional use to feed lactating pigs (owing to the association of the plant's white sap with milk production). Prickly Sow Thistle is not directly related to true thistles and is more closely related to the Dandelion. Its flowerheads also have a similar appearance to the Dandelion, being bright yellow and made up entirely of ray florets.
Botanic classification and naming: Prickly Sow Thistle is a member of the Daisy (Asteraceae) family. The genus name
'Sonchus' identifies the plant as a Sow Thistle and its species name 'asper' means 'rough plant'.
Concerns: Sow Thistles produce lots of seed and spread easily.
Benefits: Pollinated by solitary bees, butterflies and hoverflies.
Benefits to wildlife are also indicated with orange icons in the plant profile bar at the top.