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Common names

Albanian (Albania): EteoricaA,1, RrëshyellB,1; Arabic (Lebanon): أَثـْيوريزَةC,1, تِفافD,1; Arabic (Syria): تِفافE,1; Armenian (Armenia): ԻշամառոլF,1, ԿաթնբեկF,1; Bulgarian (Bulgaria): КострецG,1; Chinese (China): 苦苣菜属 ku ju cai shuH; English (Great Britain): Sow-thistleI,1; Estonian (Estonia): PiimohakasJ,2; French (Corse): LaiteronK,1; German (Germany): GänsedistelL,1; Hebrew (Israel): מָרוֹרM,1, מרורM,1, נִיסָנִיתN,1, ניסניתN,1; Italian (Italy): GrespinoO,1, RadicchiellaP,1; Latvian (Latvia): MīkstpieneJ,1; Makhuwa (Mozambique): liwangutoQ; Polish (Poland): MleczR,1; Romanian (Moldova): СусайS,1; Russian (Armenia): ОсотF,1; Shona (Mozambique): mikakaQ; Swedish (Sweden): MolkarT,1; Tamashek (Niger): awushânan, târmumm; Tsonga (Mozambique): hlaviQ, inhlaviQ; Turkish (Turkey): EşekgevreğıU; Vietnamese (Vietnam): Nhũ cúcV
1. recommended, 2. unassessed


The molecular phylogenetic studies by Kim & al. (1996, 1997, 1999[a, b], 2004, 2007) consistently revealed that Sonchus in the narrow circumscription as partly maintained, partly established by its monographer (Boulos 1972-74), is highly paraphyletic and that almost a dozen, mostly monospecific segregates or related genera, respectively, are actually more or less deeply nested within Sonchus. These include: (a) Mediterranean endemic Aetheorhiza, (b) the Canary Island endemics Atalanthus (= Taeckholmia), Babcockia, Chrysoprenanthes, Lactucosonchus (= Wildpretia) and Sventenia, (c) the Australian/New Zealandean endemics Actites, Embergia and Kirkianella, and (d) the SE Pacific Island endemics Dendroseris and Thamnoseris. The position of Dendroseris as deeple nested in Sonchus was also confirmed by plastid phylogenomics (Cho & al. 2020).

The Canary Island genera Taeckholmia and Babcockia were already shown by Aldridge (1976[a, b]) to be indistinguishable from Sonchus on morphological grounds. The other Canary Island genera were at least considered as close relatives of Sonchus. The separate generic status of the Australian/New Zealandean endemic genera was questioned already by Lander (1976) but, although with doubts, finally supported by him. The Mediterranean monospecific Aetherohiza was considered in more detail by Babcock & Stebbins (1943), who concluded its relationship to Sonchus but maintained its independent position.

Not surprising in the light of their remote distribution area, the two SE Pacific Island endemic genera Dendroseris and Thamnoseris, in contrast, had even not been considered as related to Sonchus for most of their taxonomic history and placed in different subtribes (in the Hieraciinae by Candolle 1838 and in a separate subtribe Dendroseridinae from Bentham in Bentham & Hooker 1873 over Stebbins 1953 to Bremer 1994). Jeffrey (1966) was the first to suggest the closer relationship of the two genera with Sonchus. Mejías & Kim (2012) finally included them as a subgenus of their own in Sonchus and provided the corresponding nomenclatural combinations.

The current, redefined genus Sonchus in its wider circumscription comprises c. 95 species distributed in Europe, the Mediterranean area and extending to the mid-Atlantic archipelagos (Canary Isl., Madeira and Cape Verde Isl.), in subtropical and tropical Africa, in temperate and subtropical to tropical Asia extending to Australia/New Zealand, and farther, apparently by long-distant dispersal, to the SE Pacific Juan Fernández and Desventuradas Islands. A few species are widespread to cosmopolitan weeds and ruderal species.

Infrageneric classification is still in work. Three subgenera have been recognised by Boulos (1972-74), these are, besides Sonchus subg. Sonchus, subg. Dendrosonchus for the woody species of the mid-Atlantic archipelagos and subg. Origosonchus for the tropical African species. Mejías & Kim (2012) established a fourth subgenus Dendroseris for the SE Pacific species. The circumscription of the last three subgenera is well supported by the molecular phylogenetic analyses, but subg. Sonchus in its circumscription by Boulos (1972-74) is not monophyletic and a reclassification of this portion of the genus is still needed. The relationships in that portion of the genus as revealed by the molecular analyses lacks, however, sufficient statistical support (see Kim & al. 2007). For the time being, the incomplete classification of the species of Sonchus into subgenera done here reflects this partly unsettled situation.AA,AB,AC,AD,AE,AF,AG,AH,AI,AJ,AK,AL,AM,AN,AO,AP,AQ,W,X,Y,Z


Herbs, annual, biennial, or perennial. Stem erect, not or sparsely branched below synflorescence, leafy. Leaves pinnate to undivided. Synflorescence corymbiform or paniculiform, with few to numerous capitula. Capitula with usually 70–300 florets. Involucre campanulate to broadly campanulate, as peduncle often with stipitate glandular hairs and basally ± white tomentose. Phyllaries green, glabrous or glandular hairy; outer phyllaries in several series, gradually longer centripetally, ± imbricate with longest 1/2–3/4 as long as inner ones; inner phyllaries 8–15, ± equal in length, linear-lanceolate to linear. Receptacle naked. Florets yellow. Achene brownish, ovoid to ellipsoid, compressed, narrowed toward both ends, with (4 or)5 main ribs usually accompanied by 2 secondary ribs, smooth or transversely wrinkled. Pappus white, caducous or persistent, of numerous soft fine outer bristles intermixed with some thicker often ± easily caducous inner bristles.

from: Shih C. & Kilian N. in Wu Z. Y. & al. (ed.), Flora of China 20–21: 239–240. 2011, Beijing & St Louis.

Chromosome numbers

Diploids, tetraploids, hexaploids, one species (S. novae-zelandiae) decaploid and dodecaploid; x = 9, 8 (S. bourgeaui only), 7 (S. tenerrimus only) and 15 (S. microcephalus).AR,AS,AT


Africa: Algeria native; Angola native; Azores native; Burkina introduced; Burundi native; Cameroon native; Canary Is. native; Cape Provinces (Eastern Cape Province native, Northern Cape Province native, Western Cape Province native); Cape Verde native; Chad introduced; Comoros (Comoros native); Congo native; Egypt native; Equatorial Guinea native; Eritrea native; Ethiopia native; Free State native; Gulf of Guinea Is. (Bioko native, São Tomé introduced); Kenya native; KwaZulu-Natal native; Lesotho native; Libya native; Madagascar native; Madeira native; Malawi native; Morocco native (Morocco native); Mozambique native; Namibia native; Niger native; Nigeria native; Northern Provinces (Gauteng native, Mpumalanga native, North-West Province native, Northern Province native); Rwanda native; Selvagens native; Senegal native; Somalia native: doubtfully native; St.Helena native; Sudan native; Swaziland native; Tanzania native; Tunisia native; Uganda native; Zaire native; Zambia native; Zimbabwe native Antarctic: Falkland Is. introduced Asia-Temperate: Afghanistan native; Altay native; Amur native; Buryatiya native; China North-Central (Gansu native, Hebei native, Shaanxi native, Shandong native, Shanxi native); China South-Central (Guizhou native, Hubei native, Sichuan native, Yunnan native); China Southeast (Anhui introduced, Fujian native, Guangdong native, Guangxi native, Henan native, Hong Kong native, Hunan native, Jiangsu native, Jiangxi native, Zhejiang native); Chita native; Cyprus native; East Aegean Is. native; Gulf States (Qatar introduced, United Arab Emirates introduced); Hainan native; Inner Mongolia native (Nei Mongol native, Ningxia native); Iran native; Iraq native; Irkutsk native; Japan introduced (Hokkaido native, Honshu native, Kyushu native, Shikoku native); Kamchatka doubtfully present; Kazakhstan native; Khabarovsk native; Kirgizistan native; Korea native (South Korea native); Krasnoyarsk native; Kuril Is. native; Lebanon-Syria (Lebanon native, Syria native); Magadan doubtfully present; Manchuria (Heilongjiang native, Jilin native, Liaoning native); Mongolia native; North Caucasus native (Chechnya native, Dagestan native, Kabardino-Balkariya native, Karacheyevo-Cherkessiya native, Krasnodar native, Stavropol native); Ogasawara-shoto introduced; Oman native; Palestine (Israel native, Jordan native); Primorye native; Qinghai native; Sakhalin native; Saudi Arabia native; Sinai native; Tadzhikistan native; Taiwan native; Tibet native; Transcaucasus (Abkhaziya native, Adzhariya native, Armenia native, Azerbaijan native, Georgia native, Nakhichevan native); Turkey native; Turkmenistan native; Tuva doubtfully present; Uzbekistan native; West Siberia native; Xinjiang native; Yakutskiya native; Yemen (North Yemen native, South Yemen native) Asia-Tropical: Assam (Assam native); Bangladesh native; Borneo (Sabah introduced); East Himalaya (Bhutan native, Sikkim native); India introduced (Maharashtra native, Orissa native, Punjab native, Tamil Nadu native, Uttar Pradesh native); Jawa native; Laos native; Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia native); Myanmar native; Nepal native; New Guinea (Irian Jaya introduced, Papua New Guinea introduced); Pakistan native; Philippines native; Sri Lanka native; Sumatera native; Thailand native; Vietnam native; West Himalaya (Jammu-Kashmir native) Australasia: Antipodean Is. introduced; Chatham Is. native; Kermadec Is. introduced; New South Wales (Australian Capital Territory native, New South Wales native); New Zealand North native; New Zealand South native; Northern Territory introduced; Queensland (Queensland native); South Australia native; Tasmania native; Victoria native; Western Australia (Ashmore-Cartier Is. introduced, Western Australia native) Europe: Albania native; Austria native (Austria native, Liechtenstein native); Baleares native; Baltic States (Estonia native, Kaliningrad native, Latvia native, Lithuania native); Belarus native; Belgium native (Belgium native, Luxembourg native); Bulgaria native; Central European Russia native; Corse native; Czechoslovakia native (Czech Republic native, Slovakia native); Denmark native; East European Russia native; Finland native; France native (France native); Føroyar native; Germany native; Great Britain native; Greece native; Hungary native; Iceland introduced; Ireland native (Ireland native, Northern Ireland native); Italy native; Kriti native; Krym native; Netherlands native; North European Russia native; Northwest European Russia native; Norway native; Poland native; Portugal native; Romania native; Sardegna native; Sicily native (Malta native, Sicily native); South European Russia native; Spain native (Andorra native, Gibraltar native, Spain native); Sweden native; Switzerland native; Turkey-in-Europe native; Ukraine (Moldova native, Ukraine native); Yugoslavia (Bosnia-Herzegovina native, Croatia native, Macedonia native, Montenegro native, Serbia native, Slovenia native) Northern America: Alabama introduced; Alaska introduced; Alberta introduced; Arizona introduced; Arkansas introduced; British Columbia introduced; California introduced; Colorado introduced; Connecticut introduced; Delaware introduced; District of Columbia introduced; Florida introduced; Georgia, U.S.A. introduced; Greenland introduced; Idaho introduced; Illinois introduced; Indiana introduced; Iowa introduced; Kansas introduced; Kentucky introduced; Labrador introduced; Louisiana introduced; Maine introduced; Manitoba introduced; Maryland introduced; Massachusetts introduced; Mexican Pacific Is. (Guadalupe I. introduced); Mexico Central (Mexico Distrito Federal introduced, Morelos introduced, México State introduced, Puebla introduced, Tlaxcala introduced); Mexico Gulf (Veracruz introduced); Mexico Northeast (Chihuahua introduced, Coahuila introduced, Durango introduced, Guanajuato introduced, Hidalgo introduced, Nuevo León introduced, Querétaro introduced, San Luis Potosí introduced, Tamaulipas introduced, Zacatecas introduced); Mexico Northwest (Baja California introduced, Baja California Sur introduced, Sinaloa introduced, Sonora introduced); Mexico Southeast (Campeche introduced, Chiapas introduced, Quintana Roo introduced, Yucatán introduced); Mexico Southwest (Colima introduced, Guerrero introduced, Jalisco introduced, Michoacán introduced, Oaxaca introduced); Michigan introduced; Minnesota introduced; Mississippi introduced; Missouri introduced; Montana introduced; Nebraska introduced; Nevada introduced; New Brunswick introduced; New Hampshire introduced; New Jersey introduced; New Mexico introduced; New York introduced; Newfoundland (Newfoundland introduced, St.Pierre-Miquelon introduced); North Carolina introduced; North Dakota introduced; Northwest Territories introduced; Nova Scotia introduced; Nunavut introduced; Ohio introduced; Oklahoma introduced; Ontario introduced; Oregon introduced; Pennsylvania introduced; Prince Edward I. introduced; Québec introduced; Rhode I. introduced; Saskatchewan introduced; South Carolina introduced; South Dakota introduced; Tennessee introduced; Texas introduced; Utah introduced; Vermont introduced; Virginia introduced; Washington introduced; West Virginia introduced; Wisconsin introduced; Wyoming introduced; Yukon introduced Pacific: Cook Is. introduced; Fiji introduced; Hawaii (Hawaiian Is. introduced); New Caledonia introduced Southern America: Argentina Northeast (Argentina Distrito Federal introduced, Buenos Aires introduced, Chaco introduced, Corrientes introduced, Córdoba introduced, Entre Ríos introduced, Formosa introduced, La Pampa introduced, Misiones introduced); Argentina Northwest (Catamarca introduced, Jujuy introduced, La Rioja introduced, Mendoza introduced, Salta introduced, San Juan introduced, San Luis introduced, Santiago del Estero introduced); Argentina South (Chubut introduced, Neuquén introduced, Rio Negro introduced, Santa Cruz introduced, Santa Fé introduced, Tierra del Fuego (Argentina) introduced); Bahamas introduced; Bolivia introduced; Brazil Northeast (Bahia introduced); Brazil South (Paraná introduced, Rio Grande do Sul introduced, Santa Catarina introduced); Brazil Southeast (Trindade introduced); Chile Central (Biobío introduced, Coquimbo introduced, La Araucania introduced, Maule introduced, O'Higgins introduced, Santiago introduced, Valparaíso introduced); Chile North (Antofagasta introduced, Atacama introduced, Tarapaca introduced); Chile South (Aisén introduced, Los Lagos introduced, Magellanes introduced); Colombia introduced; Cuba introduced; Desventurados Is. native; Dominican Republic introduced; Guatemala introduced; Haiti (Haiti introduced); Jamaica introduced; Juan Fernández Is. native; Leeward Is. (Anguilla introduced, Antigua-Barbuda introduced, Guadeloupe introduced, Montserrat introduced, Netherlands Leeward Is. introduced, St.Martin-St.Barthélémy introduced); Panamá introduced; Paraguay introduced; Puerto Rico introduced; Trinidad-Tobago introduced; Turks-Caicos Is. introduced; Uruguay introduced; Venezuela introduced; Venezuelan Antilles introduced; Windward Is. (Barbados introduced, Dominica introduced, Grenada introduced, Martinique introduced, St.Lucia introduced, St.Vincent introduced)


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