The Forager's Path - School of Botanical Studies

Wild Greens for the Community Herbalist: Sow Thistle

Botanical Name:Sow Thistle, Sonchus oleraceus
Sonchus oleraceus


Common Names:
Sow Thistle

Primary Characteristics for Field ID:
The flower closely resembles a dandelion. The leaves are whorled. An annual.

Part Used for Food:
The leaves and tender portion of the stems

Habitat in Which it is Found/ Harvesting Season/ Special Considerations:
This plant likes disturbed soil so is found near foot traffic and trails. Look for it where there is some extra moisture and shade from cottonwoods between 3,000’-5,000; in the Verde Valley, around Sedona and at similar elevations in the Grand Canyon.
Mostly a spring annual, it is rare in other seasons.

Mildly bitter and mildly cooling, which is common for wild greens. Quite palatable and a plant I look forward to adding to my diet each spring.

Therapeutic Uses:
Like most wild greens, it is high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Herbal Combos:
Combines well with many other greens and veggies.

Preferred Method of Preparation:
Can be eaten raw or lightly steamed or stir fried. Don’t overcook.

Dosage – Frequency & Quantity:
Enjoy it freely and often in season.

The Plant Profiles are brief materia medica summaries of plants encountered during plant walks or introduced during class on our longer programs. They are presented here to help students organize plant info on an ongoing basis. Although these Profiles are not meant to be comprehensive, they are offered here to the public in the hope that others find these pages useful.


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