• WordNet 3.6
    • n Sonchus sow thistles
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n sonchus A genus of composite plants, of the tribe Cichoriaceæ and subtribe Lactuceæ. It is characterized by flower-heads commonly dilated at the base in fruit, with numerous compressed beakless achenes having from ten to twenty ribs and bearing a soft snowy-white pappus which is deciduous in a ring. There are about 30 species, widely diffused throughout the Old World and in Australasia; four species are naturalized as weeds in the United States, two of which are now almost cosmopolitan. They are annual or perennial herbs, having spreading radical leaves and upright stems clad with coarse clasping leaves which are often toothed with soft or rigid spines. The yellow heads are irregularly clustered at the summits of the few branches. The species are fond of barn-yards and moist rich soil, whence the name sow-thistle. S. tenerrimus is eaten as a salad in Italy, and S. oleraceus was once so used in various parts of Europe. (See hare's-lettuce.) The genus is reputed a galactagogue. One or two species with handsome leaves and flowers, from Madeira and the Canaries, are sometimes cultivated under glass. See sow-thistle.
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In literature:

I forget whether there is any other case parallel with this curious one of the Sonchus...
"More Letters of Charles Darwin" by Charles Darwin
Introduced plants, Sonchus in New Zealand as example of.
"More Letters of Charles Darwin Volume II" by Charles Darwin
The channel had become filled with reeds, and great quantities of enormous milk or sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceous).
"Australia Twice Traversed, The Romance of Exploration" by Ernest Giles
The common sow-thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) grows all over the country up to an elevation of 6000 feet.
"Darwinism (1889)" by Alfred Russel Wallace
The juice of the "milk-thistles" (Sonchus) will cure warts.
"Current Superstitions" by Various