Sonchus arvensis (field sowthistle, creeping sowthistle, marsh sowthistle, moist sowthistle, field milk thistle)

description: perennial

place of origin: Eurasia

urban habitat: common in disturbed areas, rubble dumps, neglected residential and commercial landscapes, minimally maintained parks, pavement openings and cracks, vacant lots, drainage ditches, along highways, railroads, rivers, and lake shores; thrives in full sun.

ecological function: disturbance-adapted colonizer of bare ground; food for wildlife.

history: Sonchus arvensis was first reported seen in North America in 1814 in Pennsylvania. The common name sowthistle refers to its attractiveness to pigs. It ranges throughout most of the US and Canada, where it is commonly considered to be a noxious weed. The roots of the plant have been used medicinally in Europe and by Native Americans to treat asthma, coughs, and as a sedative. The leaves applied as a poultice has been found to reduce inflammatory swelling. The leaves and contain many nutrients and can be consumed as salad greens or cooked like spinach. Its cooked stems are similar to asparagus or rhubarb. Its roasted root can be used as a coffee substitute. The Maoris of New Zealand cultivate this plant for its edible leaves. The plant is also said to have insecticidal properties.