Prickly Sow Thistle

March 10th, 2012

Latin:  Sonchus asper

Irish:  Bleachtán colgach


This a native species that is frequent in waste places and roadsides.  It is an annual that grows about 80 cm high and although it looks very like other thistles it has shiny, soft leaves that are far less prickly than they appear.  Starting in June it produces many yellow flower heads (the flowers of many of the other thistle species are purple).

The name “Sow Thistle” has come from a folk belief that it was very good for lactating sows; it would increase the flow of their milk.

Although less prickly than many other thistles it can be very disagreeable for some people.  Some are very sensitive to a chemical irritant in the spines and can experience irritations ranging from burning sensations, redness, and mild to severe rashes after coming in contact with the plant. On the other hand, the milky sap (latex) from sow thistle is used as a folk cure for warts.


Sow Thistle appears in several of the ditches and waste areas around the course and in the Builder’s Paddock, the overflow car park and the machinery yard.


Leave a Reply