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  1. Family: Asteraceae Bercht. & J.Presl
    1. Genus: Sonchus L.
      1. Sonchus schweinfurthii Oliv. & Hiern

        This species is accepted, and its native range is Tropical Africa.


    Compositae, G. V. Pope. Flora Zambesiaca 6:1. 1992

    An erect robust perennial herb, usually 1–1.5 m. tall, exceptionally to c. 2 m. tall, from a terete semi-woody taproot.
    Stems solitary, branching above, green or purplish often glaucous, striately ribbed, hollow, glabrous, leafy.
    Leaves ascending, glabrous often glaucous, thinly coriaceous, the lowermost small and narrowly elliptic. Cauline leaves sessile up to c. 36 x 3 cm., linear-elliptic to narrowly-lanceolate, entire or dentately- to pinnately-lobed, attenuate to the apex, ± revolute and subentire to acicular-denticulate on the margins, sagittate-auriculate with auricles c. 2–5 cm. long, acute; lobes when present usually in the basal portion of the leaf, few to many ± remote, patent or ± reflexed, c. 7 x 1.2 cm.; upper leaves auriculate and stem clasping, becoming narrowly lanceolate and grading into the synflorescence bracts.
    Capitula solitary, or more often in few to many 2–5-capitulate clusters; mature capitula usually subtended by one or more buds; the bases of the capitula as well as the subtending buds and the upper synflorescence branches enveloped in a brownish densely woolly indumentum.
    Involucres up to c. 18 x 11 mm. in fruiting capitula, broadly cylindric to campanulate, brownish-lanate below to glabrescent, becoming swollen and corky below.
    Phyllaries olive-green to purplish, imbricate; the outermost from c. 4 mm. long, ovate-lanceolate, woolly at first often also with brownish-purple setae on the back; the innermost 13–15 mm. long, up to c. 18 mm. long in fruiting capitula, puberulent to glabrescent or setose towards the apex, ± ciliate above, involute when dry.
    Florets very numerous.
    Corollas yellow, 12–16 mm. long, pubescent about the junction between tube and ligule; ligule 3–4 mm. long, shortly strap-shaped, reddish-tinged outside, glabrous.
    Achenes pale- to reddish-brown, 3–3.5 x 0.75–1 mm., narrowly ellipsoid, somewhat compressed, c. 4-angular and ribbed on the angles with c. 2 smaller ribs on the faces between, ribs becoming swollen corky and ± rugulose; pappus white, dimorphic, c. 11 mm. long, composed of minutely barbellate slightly flattened setae intermixed with down-like hairs.

    Compositae, C. D. Adams. Flora of West Tropical Africa 2. 1963

    An erect herb like the last (Sonchus angustissimus), 3-6 ft. high
    White latex
    Ligules of florets yellow within, pinkish outside.

    Compositae, H. Beentje, C. Jeffrey & D.J.N. Hind. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2005

    Perennial herb with (sometimes annual) stems 0.5–2 m high, from a semi-woody vertical taproot; stems solitary, branching distally, proximally reddish, distally glaucous green and often with reddish lines, hollow, with copious white latex, glabrous except for the most distal parts near the capitula, which are white- or brown-tomentose.
    Leaves spreading in the proximal part of the stem, ascending in the distal part of the stem, dark green above, glaucous beneath, often with purplish margins, sessile, linear-elliptic to lanceolate, entire or pinnatilobed, 4–40 cm long, 0.5–4.5 cm wide (excl. the lobes), base sagittate-auriculate, the auricles up to 5 cm long, margins often revolute, entire, dentate or denticulate, when lobed with lobes few and often reflexed, to 5(–10) cm long and narrowly triangular, apex attenuate, midrib pale, glabrous or rarely sparsely glandular-pilose.
    Capitula solitary or 2–5 together in fairly tight clusters, these in turn arranged in lax leafy panicles or corymbs; involucre cylindric to campanulate, 12–20 mm long; phyllaries green, distally purplish or reddish, ovate to lanceolate, 2–17 mm long, acute or obtuse, the outer tomentose at base, pilose along the margins, sometimes slightly spinulose, the inner becoming more glabrous but distally minutely ciliate.
    Florets many per capitulum; corolla yellow, the outermost reddish beneath, tube 7.5–10 mm long, distally pilose, ligule 3–5 mm long, 0.5–1 mm wide.
    Achenes brown, narrowly ellipsoid, somewhat compressed, 2.8–3.8 mm long, ribbed, the ribs becoming corky and rugulose; pappus white, 9–11 mm long.
    Grassland, roadsides, a weed of cultivation and fallow land; 600–2550 m
    K2 K3 K4 K6 T1 T2 T3 T4 T6 T7 T8 U1 U2 U3



    Native to:

    Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Repu, Ethiopia, Guinea, Gulf of Guinea Is., Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

    Other Data

    Sonchus schweinfurthii Oliv. & Hiern appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Aug 1, 1998 Cheek, M. [8546 a], Cameroon K000338031
    Aug 1, 1998 Cable, S. [3027], Cameroon K000338030
    Keay, R.W.J. [FHI 28416], Cameroon K000027688
    Hepper, F.N. [1988], Cameroon K000027687
    Gossweiler, J. [4375], Angola K001307252
    Schweinfurth, G. [3560] K000251853 holotype
    Ash [1987], Ethiopia 35838.000
    Bauer, P.J. [142], Cameroon K000027684
    Bauer, P.J. [143], Cameroon K000027685
    Brunt, M.A. [618], Cameroon K000027686


    First published in Fl. Trop. Afr. 3: 458 (1877)

    Accepted by

    • Roskov Y. & al. (eds.) (2018). Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life Naturalis, Leiden, the Netherlands.


    Flora of West Tropical Africa

    • in F.T.A. 3: 458 (1877).

    Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • Agnew, A.D.Q. & Agnew, S., Upland Kenya Wild Flowers, ed. 2: 230 (1994).
    • G.V. Pope in Flora Zambesiaca 6: 224, t. 41a (1992).
    • Lawalrée, Dethier & Gilissen in Flore d'Afrique Centrale Compositae: Cichorioideae: 38 (1986).
    • Boulos in Bot. Notis. 127: 402 (1974).
    • C. Jeffrey in Kew Bulletin 18: 479 (1966).
    • C.D. Adams in Flora of West Tropical Africa ed. 2, 2: 296 (1963).
    • F. W. Andr., The Flowering Plants of the Sudan 3: 51 (1956).
    • R.E. Fr. in Acta Horti Berg. 8: 98 (1924).
    • Oliv. & Hiern in Flora of Tropical Africa 3: 458 (1877).


    Flora Zambesiaca
    Flora Zambesiaca

    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    Flora of Tropical East Africa

    Flora of West Tropical Africa
    Flora of West Tropical Africa

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    Kew Backbone Distributions
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2020. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2020. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.