Sonchus oleraceus

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaAsteraceaeSonchusSonchus oleraceus


An overwintering annual of disturbed or trampled grasslands, coastal cliff-slopes, roadside verges, arable fields, manure heaps, walls, pavement cracks, gardens and waste places. It is intolerant of grazing but an invasive weed of bare ground. It is more frequent in coastal habitats than S. asper but less frequent in the uplands. 0-365 m (Kisdon, N.W. Yorks.).



World Distribution

European Southern-temperate element, but widely naturalised so that distribution is now Circumpolar Southern-temperate.

© H. Higgins, IWNHAS

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 5

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 7


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.7

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.8

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1031

Life form information

Height (cm): 150

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Therophyte (annual land plant)



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Distribution information

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 2358

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 924

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 14

Atlas Change Index: -0.42

Weighted Changed Factor: 18

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


Distribution information

JNCC Designations


PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Atlas text references