Sow thistle

Sow thistle belongs to the herbaceous family of the composite family and grows in roadsides and bushes.

Also known as:
Hare thistle
Hare lettuce

Sow thistleSonchus – belongs to the herbaceous family (Asteraceae) . Sow thistle is an annual, the seeds are dispersed by the wind and they germinate easily. Sow thistle starts as a rosette – just like real thistles – and then grows into mature plants, ranging from half a meter to two meters in height. The plant contains a milky sap (non-toxic). Sow thistles are known as “milk thistles” in some regions, however true milk thistles belong to the genus Silybum.

Sow thistle occurs in all temperate climate zones. In our regions you will find them in roadsides, fallow land and field margins.

Sow thistle belongs to the root weeds and has a long taproot. Removal is done by pulling out or digging out the milk thistles. Do this carefully as the taproot breaks easily. And if the plant is not dug out with the entire root, root remnants still remain in the ground. New sow thistles simply grow from these leftover pieces of root.
Prevent wind-borne seed from germinating by covering the soil with a thick layer of mulch. A single sow thistle in the lawn is easy to mow.

herkennen van onkruid (melkdistel)
Sow thistle - photo: Rasbak - CC BY-SA 3.0

The young leaves are edible and taste just like lettuce. The older leaves are soon bitter.
Cows and horses are sow thistle lovers – just like rabbits.