Common Sowthistle

Common Sowthistle.

Common name

Common Sowthistle

Scientific Name

Sonchus oleraceus

Type of plant

Daisies & Thistles (Family Asteraceae)

About this weed

The Common Sowthistle is an annual or short lived perennial. It often has reddish tinges on its leaves and stems and has yellow thistle shaped flowers. It is native to Eurasia and North Africa.


The Sowthistle is an erect annual growing to 1.5 m high. The leaves are generally flaccid and are weakly prickly or have no prickles at all. Yellow flowers are are held high on the stalk in summer. Some plants may be biennial.

Impact on Bushland

If left will spread over bushland and impact on plant communities. A single plant may produce up to 8,000 seeds. Seed is able to germinate all year round over a broad range of temperatures and is favored by light, with emergence highest in seed present on the soil surface.


Widely distributed throughout West Australia usually growing in waste places and on disturbed ground.

Priority for removal


Management (hand)

Remove small and/or isolated populations manually prior to seed set. Slashing is often ineffective as flowers continue to be produced. Preliminary surveys for suitable control agents found two potential organisms: a rust fungus and eriophyid mite.

Management (herbicide)

Spot spray Lontrel® 10 ml/10 L + wetting agent preferably at the rosette stage. Read the manufacturers’ labels and material safety data sheets before using herbicides. Spray herbicide in June, July and August for optimal treatment. Resistance to herbicides such as chlorsulfuron and atrazine has led to Sowthistles, including Sonchus oleraceus, being the target of biological control programs overseas and in Australia.

Flowering month/s

All year

Flower colour/s


Information source

Additional information

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Dodd, J., Lloyd, S.G. and Cousens, R.D. (2007) Western weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia, Second Edition, The Weeds Society of Western Australia, Victoria Park, Western Australia.

Common Sowthistle images


Donations and support from the wider community help us to protect and campaign for our Urban Bushland.

Make a donation

newsletter Signup

Get the latest news and key events delivered to your inbox.

Become a Member

We are a peak environmental group in WA. One of our key strengths is our amazing group and individual members.

Become member

Urban Bushland Council WA Inc

2 Delhi Street West Perth WA 6005

PO Box 326 West Perth WA 6872

(08) 9420 7207 (please leave a message)

Send this to a friend