Sow Thistle   
Foto info
Sow Thistle
ative Photo: Thingnam Girija
Common name: Hare's-lettuce, Milk thistle, Sow thistle • Hindi: दूधी Dudhi • Manipuri: খোমথোক্পী Khomthokpi • Nepali: दुधे काँडा Dudhe Kaandaa, छोटे झार Chhote Jhaar
Botanical name: Sonchus oleraceus      Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower family)

The plant is an erect annual with simple branches. One particular feature about this sow thistle is that most of the plant is smooth and glabrous - without any hair or bristles. The stem is hollowed, and have a milky sap and its lower part usually gets a purple-brown colour later in spring. The leaves differ according age. The old (and hence lower) leaves are stalked, elongated and deeply lobed. In fact each lobe, nearly oppositely arranged along the leaf rachis, may appear to be a distinct leaf on its own. There are usually 2, 3 or 4 pairs of lobes per leaf and the terminal apical lobe is the largest and have a shape of a rounded arrow. The younger leaves also possess similar but smaller lobes. However these leaves are sessile, and have characteristic two pointed lobes (auricles) embracing the stem. Colour of the leaves vary from pale green to green-blue and may have a serrated outline but no prickles or hair. The fruits are simple achenes, brownish in colour, and oval/oblong in shape. They are wrinkled and possess obscure longitudinal ribs. At the apex they have a beakless pappus which helps seed dispersal by wind. The shape of involucral fruit is vase like - round bottomed with tapering apex and so differs from the cylindrical shape of the bud.
Medicinal uses: Plant is useful in liver diseases. Leaves and roots are used in indegestion as febrifuge; stem is used as sedative, tonic; root extract is used in ointments for ulcers and wounds. Gum produced by evaporating latex is used for ascites and hydrothorax.

Photographed in Delhi and Manipur
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