Prickly Sow-Thistle

Sonchus asper

foliage of prickly sow-thistle, Sonchus asper, Eldoret, Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens

Plants about 1 meter tall growing as a garden weed. Eldoret, Kenya. January 2012.

sow thistle in highland areas of Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens
  • Ray Flowers: ALL of the florets are strap-shaped like rays. Some around the perimeter of the head may be a little larger.
  • Disc Flowers: the shorter strap-shaped florets at the center of the head appear similar to disc florets.
  • Phyllaries: tall phyllaries enclose the florets and close even tighter as the seeds develop - small image at right.
  • Pappus: a dense fluff of cottony filaments top the seeds aiding in wind dispersal. Notice in the image at right that a dense barrier of gland-tipped hairs are set below the developing seed head. Crawling insects intending to feed on the seeds may have difficulty reaching the seeds.
  • Leaves: The simple leaves broadly elliptic with larger teeth that are margined with spiny smaller teeth. The largest leaves are clustered around the base.

Asteraceae -- Sunflower Family

More Information:

sow thistle in highland areas of Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, Created on 28 July 2012,
updated 24 February 2013.