Spiny Sowthistle, prickly sowthistle, sharp-fringed sow thistle, spiny-leaf sow-thistle
Place of origin: Europe
Urban habitat: commonly found in waste areas, roadsides, rubble dumps, pavement openings, vacant lots; thrives in full sun and is drought tolerant.
Ecological function: disturbance-adapted colonizer of bare ground.
History: Sonchus asper arrived early in North America after European colonization and is now found throughout North America including Greenland. The common name Sowthistle refers to its attractiveness to pigs. In Europe, its leaves are commonly consumed in salads or used like spinach. Some Native American tribes consumed its leaves and stems and also used the plant as a sedative and for treatment of heart palpitations and wounds. Contact with the spines can cause skin irritations in some people.