Perennial Sowthistle

Biological Name:

Sonchus arvensis (Perennial-Sowthistle)

Natural Habitat:

Perennial Sowthistle: This plant can grow in various habitats including meadows, pastures, and fields, and is commonly found in Europe, Asia, and North America.


Perennial sowthistle is a type of flowering plant that is commonly found in fields and other grassy areas. It is a member of the Asteraceae family which also includes plants such as daisies and sunflowers. Perennial sowthistle is a perennial plant that produces small yellow flowers and clusters of seeds. The plant is often used as a cover crop to improve soil health and suppress weeds. It is also known for its ability to tolerate a wide range of growing conditions including wet or dry soils. In some areas perennial sowthistle is considered a weed because of its ability to invade cultivated areas and cause allergies and other health problems.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is Perennial Sowthistle edible?
A: The leaves, flowers, and roots are edible but you have to eat them when they are young because the older they get the more bitter they become. The leaves are full of vitamin C and you can ground the cleaned and dried root to use like coffee.

Q: Can humans eat sow thistle?
A: SOWTHISTLE AS FOOD The best part of the plant is the young leaves, raw or cooked. They can be added to salads, cooked like spinach or used in soups etc. You can also use the stems, cooked like asparagus or rhubarb. The milky sap has been used as a chewing gum by the Maoris of New Zealand.

Q: Is thistle poisonous to humans?
A: Health Risks: Entire plant is highly toxic to humans and livestock, causing vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory issues, and spasms.

Q: Can you eat all types of thistle?
A: Rub the “wool” off and enjoy, raw or cooked. All thistles in the genus Cirsium, and the genus Carduus, are edible. Or said another way, there is no poisonous true thistle, but not all of them are palatable. In the second year plant the inner core of the flower stalks is quite tasty and not that much work.

Q: Is Bull Thistle poisonous to humans?
A: Bull thistle is moderately toxic. Its seedlings are edible after cooking, but it contains oxalic acid, which can be toxic if eaten for a long time. Its flowers are gorgeous and its fruits are striking.

Q: How do you control perennial sowthistle?
A: There are two types of herbicides that can be used to control Perennial sowthistle; selective and non-selective. Selective herbicides kill or inhibit growth of certain types of plants (like broad leaf plants) and do not kill other types (like grasses). Non-selective chemicals kill nearly all types of plants.

Q: How do I get rid of sowthistle?
A: Small isolated plants can be effectively controlled by hand pulling and digging out as much of the roots and rhizomes as possible. This plant is relatively resistant to many, but not all, common broadleaf herbicides. Spot spraying with an herbicide containing the active ingredient glyphosate (Roundup Pro, Glyfos, etc.)

Q: What is the best way to stop the spread of a thistle?
A: To keep thistles from establishing, minimize soil disturbance and cover bare soils with mulch. Because of their tough roots, thistles can be difficult to control. Thistle seedlings have bristles or spines on their leaves, so as soon as you notice a seedling, pull it out before the roots are well established.

Q: How do I get rid of three Beggarweed flowers?
A: 2,4-D combination herbicides such as those that contain 2,4-D, dicamba, mecoprop-p acid (MCPP), or other general broadleaf herbicides (such as Trimec) have been reported to provide control of immature creeping beggarweed.

Q: What can I plant to choke thistle out?
A: Plant additional grass seeds in your lawn. While you’re tackling your thistle problem, try planting some additional grass seeds in your lawn. As the grass grows, their root systems will compete with the thistles and make it harder for them to grow. Eventually, they’ll help choke out new weed growth.

Q: Are thistle weeds good for anything?
A: Thistle is a very beneficial plant for pollinators. Bees, flies, beetles, and butterflies all like the nectar of the thistle flowers. We have these all over our yard here in Maine.

Q: How do you control perennial weeds?
A: Mowing or tillage is a good means of reducing perennial weed seed production. If fall herbicide applications are planned, mowing or tillage should be discontinued early enough to allow adequate plant regrowth. Post-harvest treatments can be applied when weed growth is about 1 foot tall.

Q: Is sow thistle annual or perennial?
A: Sowthistle is a perennial herb that reproduces from seed and spreading rhizome-like roots. A single plant can produce 4,000–13,000 seeds that can remain dormant in the soil for up to 6 years (Alaska Exotic Plant Information Clearinghouse.

Q: Do thistles come back every year?
A: Thistle is an invasive biennial or perennial weed, meaning it grows every other year, or grows every year depending on the species and can form large infestations quickly.

Q: Do thistles survive winter?
A: The plant starts as a rosette, but quickly develops rigid, hairy, branched stems and leaves with very sharp spikes. The plants usually die back during winter, but don’t be deceived. Their extensive underground system of roots and rhizomes have quietly spent the season storing up energy for regrowth in the spring.

Q: Do thistle roots survive winter?
A: Spring treatment: All winter, Canada thistle lays dormant under the ground, subsisting on the nutrients stored in its roots and rhizomes. When the snow melts in spring, it will use that precious stored energy to push a flush of leaves out of the ground, which will start out as a patch of spiny rosettes.

Q: How long does a thistle plant live?
A: While bull thistle lives for just two years (biennial), usually flowering the second year, Canada thistles are perennial weeds, surviving more than two years without external interference. This means that the same mature plant can produce millions of seeds in their lifetime.

Q: What does perennial sow thistle look like?
A: leafy at the base, branched in the tops and grow up to 2m tall. Cut stems exude a milky juice. and waxy, with weakly prickled edges and the shape is variable. Lower leaves are stalked, but clasp the stem higher up.

Q: Is Perennial sow thistle poisonous?
A: Common grounsel does not have bristles or spines and is relatively smooth to the touch. ; sowthistle can also become poisonous by accumulating nitrates. Sowthistle has hollow stems, milky sap, and leaf bases that seem to clasp the stem; it is much more robust, often over 24 inches tall.

Q: Is Perennial sow thistle invasive?
A: Perennial sow-thistle has long been an ag- gressive agricultural weed, but can invade both natural and disturbed sites.

Q: Should I let a thistle grow in my garden?
A: Thistle do nicely! Far from being just a prickly nuisance, thistles can be a spectacular asset to your garden, says Monty Don – and some are edible too. Thistles tend to be branded as spiky weeds thanks to their ability to reproduce themselves voraciously if allowed to seed.

Q: Is sow thistle good for wildlife?
A: There are two thistles to trouble gardeners and farmers: the purple-flowered, spiny-leaved Creeping Thistle, and the yellow-flowered Sow Thistle. Both have strong root systems, and set seed surprisingly quickly. But both have an important role in supporting wildlife.

Q: Why is the creeping thistle a problem?
A: The loss of native plants tends to disrupt animal habitats and limits food sources for grazing wildlife. Creeping thistle also produces chemicals that alter the pH levels in the soil, giving native species even more trouble. It can spread via seeds or can regrow from buried parts of the root.

About the author

Samuel is a gardening professional and enthusiast who has spent over 20 years advising homeowners and farm owners on weed identification, prevention and removal. He has an undergraduate degree in plant and soil science from Michigan State University.