Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Sonchus asper
(spiny sow-thistle)

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Datasheet

Sonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 18 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Sonchus asper
  • Preferred Common Name
  • spiny sow-thistle
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Sonchus asper is an annual herb considered native to Europe, Africa and Asia that has been introduced to a wide range of countries around the world, where it frequently becomes an environmental and agricultural weed. The species grows in...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Sonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle); habit, showing flower and apical part of plant. East Sussex, UK. April 2017.
TitleHabit
CaptionSonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle); habit, showing flower and apical part of plant. East Sussex, UK. April 2017.
Copyright©EmÅ‘ke Dénes/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Sonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle); habit, showing flower and apical part of plant. East Sussex, UK. April 2017.
HabitSonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle); habit, showing flower and apical part of plant. East Sussex, UK. April 2017.©EmÅ‘ke Dénes/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Sonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle); habit. Australia. May 2014.
TitleHabit
CaptionSonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle); habit. Australia. May 2014.
Copyright©Harry Rose (Macleay Grass Man)/via flickr - CC BY 2.0
Sonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle); habit. Australia. May 2014.
HabitSonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle); habit. Australia. May 2014.©Harry Rose (Macleay Grass Man)/via flickr - CC BY 2.0
Sonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle); habit. Australia. May 2014.
TitleHabit
CaptionSonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle); habit. Australia. May 2014.
Copyright©Harry Rose (Macleay Grass Man)/via flickr - CC BY 2.0
Sonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle); habit. Australia. May 2014.
HabitSonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle); habit. Australia. May 2014.©Harry Rose (Macleay Grass Man)/via flickr - CC BY 2.0
Sonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle); rosette, with developing leaves. Maui, Hawaii, USA. May 2015.
TitleBasal rosette
CaptionSonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle); rosette, with developing leaves. Maui, Hawaii, USA. May 2015.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Sonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle); rosette, with developing leaves. Maui, Hawaii, USA. May 2015.
Basal rosetteSonchus asper (spiny sow-thistle); rosette, with developing leaves. Maui, Hawaii, USA. May 2015.©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Sonchus asper (L.) Hill

Preferred Common Name

  • spiny sow-thistle

Other Scientific Names

  • Sonchus aemulus Merino
  • Sonchus asper (L.) Vill.
  • Sonchus asper All.
  • Sonchus borderi Gand.
  • Sonchus carolinianus Walter
  • Sonchus cuspidatus Blume
  • Sonchus decipiens (De Not.) Zenari
  • Sonchus eryngiifolius Sosn.
  • Sonchus eryngioides DC.
  • Sonchus fallax Wallr.
  • Sonchus glaber Thunb.
  • Sonchus infestus Poepp. ex DC.
  • Sonchus spinosus Lam.
  • Sonchus spinulosus Bigelow
  • Sonchus sulphureus Boiss.
  • Sonchus tibesticus Quézel
  • Sonchus umbellatus E.Mey. ex DC.
  • Sonchus viridis Zenari

International Common Names

  • English: blue sow-thistle; prickly sow-thistle; rough sow-thistle; spiny-leaf sow-thistle
  • Spanish: cardo; cardo espinoso; cerraja
  • French: chaudronnet; laiteron âpre; laiteron épineux; laiteron piquant; laiteron rude; lastron piquant
  • Chinese: hua ye dian ku cai
  • Portuguese: serralha áspera; serralha espinhosa; serralha preta

Local Common Names

  • Czech Republic: mlé
  • Dominican Republic: lechuguilla; yerba espinosa
  • Finland: aitoukonhattu; metsätähti
  • Norway: skogstjerne; venusvogn
  • Sweden: balkansippa; skogsalpsklocka; skogsstjärna; trädgårdsstormhatt

Summary of Invasiveness

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Sonchus asper is an annual herb considered native to Europe, Africa and Asia that has been introduced to a wide range of countries around the world, where it frequently becomes an environmental and agricultural weed. The species grows in a wide range of habitats and climates, and produces large numbers of seeds (>20,000 seeds), which are easily dispersed by wind and water, but also as contaminants. Because S. asper is very successful colonising disturbed sites, as well as natural habitats at early successional stages, it has the potential to outcompete native plant species, inhibit the establishment of other native pioneer species and thus alter natural successional processes. It is also regarded as a noxious species due to hosting diseases and pests that affect crops.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Asterales
  •                         Family: Asteraceae
  •                             Genus: Sonchus
  •                                 Species: Sonchus asper

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Sonchus is a genus of about 60-90 species that contains annual, biennial and perennial herbs. Its main diversity occurs in Africa, the Mediterranean region and the mid-Atlantic archipelagos, but it also comprises woody species endemic to Macaronesia, and several cosmopolitan weedy species (Kim et al., 2007; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018).

Description

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This description was taken from the Flora of China Editorial Committee (2018):

Herbs 20-50 cm tall, annual or occasionally biennial. Stem usually unbranched and glabrous below synflorescence. Basal and lower stem leaves extremely variable, obovate, spatulate, or elliptic, 7-13 × 2-5 cm, undivided or ± irregularly pinnatisect, glabrous, adaxially dark green and ± glossy, base attenuate and ± auriculate, margin usually densely spinulosely dentate, apex acute, acuminate, or obtuse; lateral lobes ± triangular, semiorbicular, or elliptic. Middle and upper stem leaves spatulate to lanceolate, base auriculately clasping with conspicuous rounded and appressed auricles, otherwise similar to lower leaves. Synflorescence densely corymbiform, with few capitula. Capitula with many florets; peduncle 0.5-5 cm, slender, glabrous or densely glandular hairy. Involucre ± campanulate, 1.2 cm. Phyllaries abaxially glabrous or more rarely glandular hairy, apex acute; outer phyllaries narrowly lanceolate, 1-2 mm wide. Corolla 1 cm. Achene ± broadly obcolumnar, 2-3 mm, strongly compressed, ± winged, between lateral ribs usually with 3 slender ribs on either side, space between slender ribs much wider than ribs, smooth with only lateral ribs usually antrorsely finely spinulose. Pappus 7 mm ± caduceus.

Plant Type

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Annual
Biennial
Broadleaved
Herbaceous
Seed propagated

Distribution

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The native distribution range of S. asper is still uncertain, but the species is considered native to Europe, Africa and temperate Asia. It has been introduced and become naturalized across parts of Asia, Scandinavia, Canada, USA, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Region and some sub-Antarctic islands, such as Gough Island, Auckland Islands and Campbell Island (DAISIE, 2018; Flora Mesoamericana, 2018GISD, 2018; PIER, 2018; USDA-ARS, 2018).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 04 Jun 2021
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

AlgeriaPresentNative
AngolaPresentNative
BotswanaPresentNative
CameroonPresentNative
Congo, Democratic Republic of thePresentNative
EgyptPresentNative
EritreaPresentNative
EswatiniPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
EthiopiaPresentNative
KenyaPresentNative
LesothoPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
LibyaPresentNative
MadagascarPresentNative
MalawiPresentNative
MauritiusPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
MoroccoPresentNative
MozambiquePresentNative
NamibiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
RéunionPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
RwandaPresentNative
Saint HelenaPresentIntroduced
SenegalPresentNative
SomaliaPresentNative
South AfricaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
SudanPresentNative
TanzaniaPresentNative
TunisiaPresentNative
UgandaPresentNative
ZambiaPresentNative
ZimbabwePresentNative

Asia

AfghanistanPresentNative
ArmeniaPresentNative
AzerbaijanPresentNative
BhutanPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
ChinaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-AnhuiPresent
-GuangxiPresentIntroducedInvasiveWeed
-HenanPresent
-HubeiPresentIntroducedInvasiveWeed
-JiangsuPresentIntroducedInvasiveWeed
-ShandongPresentIntroducedInvasiveWeed
-SichuanPresentIntroducedInvasiveWeed
-XinjiangPresentIntroducedInvasiveWeed
-ZhejiangPresentIntroducedInvasiveWeed
GeorgiaPresentNative
IndiaPresentIntroducedInvasivePresent based on regional distribution
-Arunachal PradeshPresentIntroducedInvasive
-AssamPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Himachal PradeshPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Jammu and KashmirPresentIntroducedInvasive
-ManipurPresentIntroducedInvasive
-MeghalayaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-MizoramPresentIntroducedInvasive
-NagalandPresentIntroducedInvasive
-OdishaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-PunjabPresent
-SikkimPresentIntroducedInvasive
-TripuraPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Uttar PradeshPresentIntroducedInvasive
-UttarakhandPresentIntroducedInvasive
-West BengalPresentIntroducedInvasive
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
IranPresentNative
IraqPresentNative
IsraelPresentNative
JapanPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
JordanPresentNative
KazakhstanPresentNative
KyrgyzstanPresentNative
LebanonPresentNative
NepalPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
PakistanPresentNative and IntroducedConsidered both native and introduced (invasive) in the country
South KoreaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
TaiwanPresentIntroducedInvasiveWeed
TajikistanPresentNative
ThailandPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
TurkeyPresentNative
TurkmenistanPresentNative
UzbekistanPresentNative
VietnamPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
YemenPresentNative

Europe

AlbaniaPresentNative
AustriaPresentNative
BelarusPresentNative
BelgiumPresentNative
Bosnia and HerzegovinaPresentNative
BulgariaPresentNative
CroatiaPresentNative
CyprusPresentNative
CzechiaPresentNative and IntroducedConsidered both native and introduced (invasive) in the country
DenmarkPresentNative and IntroducedConsidered both native and introduced (invasive) in the country
EstoniaPresentNative
FinlandPresentNative and IntroducedConsidered both native and introduced (invasive) in the country
FrancePresentNative
-CorsicaPresentNative
GermanyPresentNative
GreecePresentNative
HungaryPresentNative
IrelandPresentNative
ItalyPresentNative
-SardiniaPresent
LatviaPresentNative
LithuaniaPresentNative
MoldovaPresentNative
MontenegroPresentNative
NetherlandsPresentNative
North MacedoniaPresentNative
NorwayPresentNative and IntroducedConsidered both native and introduced (invasive) in the country
PolandPresentNative
PortugalPresentNative
-AzoresPresentIntroducedInvasive
RomaniaPresentNative
RussiaPresentNative
-Eastern SiberiaPresentNative
-Russian Far EastPresentNative
-Western SiberiaPresentNative
SerbiaPresentNative
SlovakiaPresentNative
SloveniaPresentNative
SpainPresentNative
-Balearic IslandsPresentNative
SwedenPresentNative and IntroducedConsidered both native and introduced (invasive) in the country
SwitzerlandPresentNative
UkrainePresentNative and IntroducedConsidered both native and introduced (invasive) in the country
United KingdomPresentNative
-Channel IslandsPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized

North America

Antigua and BarbudaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedWeed
BahamasPresentIntroduced
BarbadosPresent, WidespreadIntroducedWeed
CanadaPresentIntroducedPresent based on regional distribution
-AlbertaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveNoxious weed
-British ColumbiaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveNoxious weed
-ManitobaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveNoxious weed
-New BrunswickPresentIntroduced
-Newfoundland and LabradorPresentIntroduced
-Nova ScotiaPresentIntroduced
-OntarioPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveNoxious weed
-Prince Edward IslandPresentIntroduced
-QuebecPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveNoxious weed
-SaskatchewanPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveNoxious weed
-YukonPresentIntroduced
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedInvasive
GreenlandPresentIntroduced
GuadeloupePresent, WidespreadIntroducedWeed
HaitiPresentIntroduced
JamaicaPresentIntroduced
MartiniquePresent, WidespreadIntroducedWeed
MexicoPresentIntroducedInvasiveListed as weed
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
PanamaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced
Saint Pierre and MiquelonPresentIntroduced
United StatesPresentIntroducedPresent based on regional distribution
-AlabamaPresentIntroduced
-AlaskaPresentIntroducedInvasiveListed as noxious weed
-ArizonaPresentIntroduced
-ArkansasPresentIntroduced
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced
-ColoradoPresentIntroduced
-ConnecticutPresentIntroduced
-DelawarePresentIntroduced
-District of ColumbiaPresentIntroduced
-FloridaPresentIntroduced
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveListed as noxious weed
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedInvasive
-IdahoPresentIntroduced
-IllinoisPresentIntroduced
-IndianaPresentIntroduced
-IowaPresentIntroduced
-KansasPresentIntroduced
-KentuckyPresentIntroducedInvasiveListed as noxious weed
-LouisianaPresentIntroduced
-MainePresentIntroduced
-MarylandPresentIntroduced
-MassachusettsPresentIntroduced
-MichiganPresentIntroduced
-MinnesotaPresentIntroduced
-MississippiPresentIntroduced
-MissouriPresentIntroduced
-MontanaPresentIntroduced
-NebraskaPresentIntroducedInvasiveListed as noxious weed
-NevadaPresentIntroduced
-New HampshirePresentIntroduced
-New JerseyPresentIntroduced
-New MexicoPresentIntroduced
-New YorkPresentIntroduced
-North CarolinaPresentIntroduced
-North DakotaPresentIntroduced
-OhioPresentIntroduced
-OklahomaPresentIntroduced
-OregonPresentIntroduced
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroduced
-Rhode IslandPresentIntroduced
-South CarolinaPresentIntroduced
-South DakotaPresentIntroduced
-TennesseePresentIntroduced
-TexasPresentIntroduced
-UtahPresentIntroduced
-VermontPresentIntroduced
-VirginiaPresentIntroduced
-WashingtonPresentIntroduced
-West VirginiaPresentIntroduced
-WisconsinPresentIntroduced
-WyomingPresentIntroduced

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Lord Howe IslandPresentIntroducedInvasive
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedInvasive
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedInvasive
-South AustraliaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-TasmaniaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-VictoriaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroducedInvasive
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedInvasive
New ZealandPresentIntroducedInvasive
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroducedInvasive
TongaPresentIntroducedInvasive

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedInvasiveLa Pampa, San Luis, Santa Fe, Entre Rios, Buenos Aires
BoliviaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
BrazilPresentIntroducedInvasive
-AlagoasPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-BahiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-CearaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-Espirito SantoPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-GoiasPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-Mato GrossoPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-ParaibaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-ParanaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-PernambucoPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-Rio Grande do NortePresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-SergipePresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
ChilePresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive in Juan Fernandez archipelago
-Easter IslandPresentIntroducedInvasive
EcuadorPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
Falkland IslandsPresentIntroduced
GuyanaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
ParaguayPresentIntroducedInvasive
PeruPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
UruguayPresentIntroducedInvasive
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized

History of Introduction and Spread

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Like many Old World weeds, S. asper was apparently introduced unintentionally into the New World by European explorers during the colonisation of America. In North America, it was probably introduced early in the 1800s. Achenes of S. asper have been found in adobe bricks used to build missions in California. In Canada, the earliest herbarium collection is from 1871, in Ontario (Hutchinson et al., 1984).

Risk of Introduction

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No economic uses are known for S. asper, making the risk of intentional introductions low. However, this cosmopolitan weed is a prolific seed producer and its tiny seeds can be easily dispersed by human activities, as a contaminant in crop and grass seed, a hitchhiker on footwear, or attached to animals, which increases the risk of spread (Hutchinson et al., 1984; GISD, 2018; PROTA, 2018).

Habitat

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S. asper is a pioneer species that often invades sites disturbed by human activities, such as roadsides, cultivated fields, wastelands, gardens, gravel pits, mines and logged areas. It also occurs in areas naturally disturbed by grazing, landslides or fire. It can also be found in mountain slopes, forest and field margins, ruderal areas, grasslands, along lakeshores and streams, and on muddy sites, at elevations from 750 m to 3700 m (Flora Mesoamericana, 2018; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2018; PROTA, 2018). Across Canada and the USA, this species is fairly common in riparian and coastal habitats, particularly on disturbed sites (Hutchinson et al., 1984; ANHP, 2010; GISD, 2018).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed/Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-managed/Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-managed/Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-managed/Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-managed/Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-managed/Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural/Natural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural/Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural/Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Littoral/Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-managed/Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial-managed/Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial-managed/Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial-managed/Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial-managed/Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial-managed/Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural/Natural forests Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural/Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural/Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Littoral/Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial-managed/Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-managed/Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-managed/Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-managed/Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-managed/Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-managed/Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural/Natural forests Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural/Natural grasslands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural/Riverbanks Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Littoral/Coastal areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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S. asper has been listed as a weed of alfalfa, cotton, coffee, beans, garbanzo beans, tomato and maize plantations (Villaseñor and Espinosa, 1998; Vibrans, 2009).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContextReferences
Cicer arietinum (chickpea)FabaceaeMain
    Coffea arabica (arabica coffee)RubiaceaeMain
      Gossypium (cotton)MalvaceaeMain
        Medicago sativa (lucerne)FabaceaeMain
          Phaseolus (beans)FabaceaeMain
            Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)SolanaceaeMain
              Zea mays (maize)PoaceaeMain

                Growth Stages

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                Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage

                Biology and Ecology

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                Genetics

                The chromosome number reported for S. asper is 2n = 18 (Hutchinson et al., 1984; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018). Crossings between S. asper and S. oleraceus may occur, but the hybrids are sterile (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2018).

                Reproductive Biology

                S. asper has bisexual self-compatible flowers. Flowers are pollinated by insects, including solitary bees and flies, but also by wind. Seeds are produced both through selfing and outcrossing (Hutchinson et al., 1984).

                Physiology and Phenology

                In North America, seeds of S. asper germinate from spring through fall. Seeds normally germinate 2-3 weeks after planting. The seedlings attain the rosette stage at 6 weeks of age and start producing flowers after 9 weeks. Mature achenes are produced about a week after flowering (Hutchinson et al., 1984). Plants that germinate in the fall overwinter as rosettes (Hutchinson et al., 1984; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2018).

                In China, S. asper has been recorded flowering and fruiting from May to October (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018). In the USA, it produces flowers and fruits from March to November in the north and year-round in the south (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2018). In Central America, it has been recorded with flowers and fruits throughout the year (Flora Mesoamericana, 2018; Flora of Nicaragua, 2018).

                Longevity

                S. asper is an annual or biennial herb (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2018; USDA-NRSC, 2018). It overwinters in the vegetative phase as rosettes or seeds. Seeds may remain viable in the soil for 1 to 3 years (Hutchinson et al., 1984; DiTomaso and Healy, 2007).

                Environmental Requirements

                The cosmopolitan range of S. asper suggests a broad tolerance of climatic variation and great ability to thrive in many different environments. However, light and disturbance seem to be the major requirements for the germination and establishment of this species. Currently, S. asper grows mostly in disturbed sites extending from 70°N to 50°S, in areas with annual rainfall ranging form 300 mm to 3000 mm and daily temperature above 5°C. It can grow in clay, loam and sandy soils with pH between 6.5 and 9. Plants tolerate saline soils and calcium carbonate content up to 55% (Hutchinson et al., 1984; Holm et al., 1997; ANHP, 2010).

                Climate

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                ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
                Am - Tropical monsoon climate Tolerated Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
                As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
                Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
                BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
                Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
                Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
                Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
                Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Tolerated Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)
                Dw - Continental climate with dry winter Tolerated Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)
                Df - Continental climate, wet all year Tolerated Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)

                Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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                Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
                70 50 750 3700

                Air Temperature

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                Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
                Mean annual temperature (ºC) 5 25

                Rainfall

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                ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
                Mean annual rainfall3003000mm; lower/upper limits

                Rainfall Regime

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                Bimodal
                Summer
                Uniform
                Winter

                Soil Tolerances

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                Soil drainage

                • free

                Soil reaction

                • alkaline
                • neutral

                Soil texture

                • heavy
                • light
                • medium

                Special soil tolerances

                • saline

                Natural enemies

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                Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
                Alternaria sonchi Pathogen Other/All Stages not specific
                Aphidoletes aphidimyza Pathogen Other/All Stages not specific
                Aphis fabae Pathogen Other/All Stages not specific
                Beet western yellows virus Pathogen Other/All Stages not specific
                Beet yellow stunt virus Pathogen Other/All Stages
                Bremia lactucae Pathogen Other/All Stages not specific
                Calycomyza sonchi Herbivore Leaves/Other/All Stages not specific
                Chromatomyia syngenesiae Herbivore Leaves/Other/All Stages not specific
                Cnephasia longana Herbivore Other/All Stages not specific
                Hyperomyzus lactucae Pathogen Other/All Stages not specific
                Hyperomyzus pallidus Pathogen Other/All Stages not specific
                Lettuce necrotic yellows virus Pathogen Other/All Stages
                Meloidogyne Parasite Other/All Stages not specific
                Ophiomyia coniceps Herbivore Leaves/Other/All Stages not specific
                Ophiomyia pulicaria Herbivore Leaves/Other/All Stages not specific
                Phytoliriomyza arctica Herbivore Leaves/Other/All Stages not specific
                Podosphaera fuliginea Pathogen Other/All Stages not specific
                Pratylenchus penetrans Parasite Other/All Stages not specific
                Sowthistle yellow vein virus Pathogen Other/All Stages
                Uroleucon sonchi Pathogen Other/All Stages not specific

                Notes on Natural Enemies

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                S. asper is an important alternative host of a number of crop pests and diseases, including (Hutchinson et al. 1984; Vieira and Barreto, 2006; GISD, 2018):

                • aphids (Aphididae) Aphis fabae, Hyperomyzus lactucae, H. pallidus and Uroleucon sonchi;

                • the larva of the Cecidomyiid fly Aphidoletes aphidimyza, which was originally described from S. asper in Europe;

                • leaf miners Ophiomyia pulicaria, O. coniceps, Phytomyza syngenesiae [Chromatomyia syngenesiae], Phytoliriomyza arctica and Calycomyza sonchi;

                • the moth (Tortricidae) Cnephasia longana;

                • nematodes Meloidogyne spp. and Pratylenchus penetrans;

                • fungal infections Bremia lactucae (downy mildew), Sphaerotheca fuliginea [Podosphaera fuliginea] (a powdery mildew) and Alternaria sonchi

                • viruses: beet western yellows virus, lettuce necrotic yellows virus, beet yellow stunt virus and sowthistle yellow vein virus.

                Means of Movement and Dispersal

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                Natural Dispersal

                S. asper spreads by seed. Each reproductive plant may produce between 20,000 and 26,000 seeds that are primarily dispersed by wind, but also by water, or spread after being ingested by birds or small mammals. Seeds remain viable after passing through the digestive system of birds, small mammals and livestock (Hutchinson et al. 1984; DiTomaso and Healy, 2007; ANHP, 2010; GISD, 2018).

                Accidental Introduction

                Seeds of S. asper may be dispersed by animals, adhered to feathers and fur, and also by humans on clothing, shoes, vehicles and machinery. The species has also been documented as a contaminant of commercial grass and crop seeds (Hutchinson et al. 1984; DiTomaso and Healy, 2007; ANHP, 2010; GISD, 2018).

                Pathway Causes

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                CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
                Crop productionAgricultural weed Yes Yes Vibrans (2009)
                Digestion and excretionSeeds consumed and dispersed by birds, small mammals and cattle Yes Yes Hutchinson et al. (1984)
                DisturbanceVery common in disturbed sites, described as a pioneer species Yes Yes Hutchinson et al. (1984)
                Garden waste disposalWeed in gardens Yes Yes USDA-ARS (2018)
                HitchhikerSeeds in crop seed, feathers, fur, clothing, shoes, machinery Yes Yes GISD (2018)
                Medicinal useUsed in traditional medicine Yes Yes PROTA (2018)
                People foragingLeaves are eaten as a vegetable Yes Yes Useful Tropical Plants (2014)

                Pathway Vectors

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                VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
                Clothing, footwear and possessionsSeeds as contaminant Yes Yes GISD (2018)
                Debris and waste associated with human activitiesSeeds as contaminant Yes Yes GISD (2018)
                Machinery and equipmentSeeds as contaminant Yes Yes GISD (2018)
                LivestockSeeds consumed and dispersed by livestock Yes Yes Hutchinson et al. (1984)
                WaterSeeds Yes Yes Hutchinson et al. (1984)
                WindSeeds Yes Yes Hutchinson et al. (1984)

                Economic Impact

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                S. asper is a weed of agricultural lands (Villaseñor and Espinosa, 1998; Vibrans, 2009), but is also an important alternative host of pests, viruses and diseases that affect crops. It acts as host to economically important aphids that are vectors of “yellows” virus diseases and it is also an important host of the downy mildew Bremia lactucae, one of the worst diseases affecting lettuce plantations (Hutchinson et al., 1984; Vieira and Barreto, 2006; GISD, 2018; PROTA, 2018). The species causes major problems in winter crops and tillage systems throughout southern Australia, Southeast Queensland and Northern New South Wales (Weeds of Australia, 2018).

                Environmental Impact

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                S. asper is an environmental weed very successful at colonising disturbed and open sites. There, it can occur scattered, but also forming dense stands that outcompete native plant species and inhibit the establishment of other native pioneer species, thus causing alterations in natural successional processes. Because S. asper is pollinated by insects, its introduction can also alter plant-pollinator interactions (Hutchinson et al., 1984; ANHP, 2010; GISD, 2018; Weeds of Australia, 2018).

                Risk and Impact Factors

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                Invasiveness
                • Proved invasive outside its native range
                • Has a broad native range
                • Abundant in its native range
                • Highly adaptable to different environments
                • Is a habitat generalist
                • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
                • Pioneering in disturbed areas
                • Highly mobile locally
                • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
                • Fast growing
                • Has high reproductive potential
                • Gregarious
                • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
                Impact outcomes
                • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
                • Modification of successional patterns
                • Monoculture formation
                • Negatively impacts agriculture
                • Reduced native biodiversity
                • Threat to/ loss of native species
                Impact mechanisms
                • Competition - monopolizing resources
                • Competition - smothering
                • Pest and disease transmission
                • Hybridization
                • Rapid growth
                • Produces spines, thorns or burrs
                Likelihood of entry/control
                • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
                • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
                • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
                • Difficult/costly to control

                Uses

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                S. asper is harvested from the wild for local use as food and medicine. The leaves are eaten as a cooked vegetable or occasionally raw in salads. In the Mediterranean region and Southeast Asia, use of S. asper as a vegetable is widespread. In Africa, its use as a vegetable is reported from Madagascar.

                In Asia, the plant is pounded and applied as a poultice to wounds and boils (Useful Tropical Plants, 2014). In Africa, the plant is used to treat warts (PROTA, 2018).

                Uses List

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                Human food and beverage

                • Vegetable

                Medicinal, pharmaceutical

                • Traditional/folklore

                Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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                S. asper looks very similar to the close relative S. oleraceus, a species that is also a cosmopolitan weed. However, S. oleraceus has flatter, less spiky leaf margins and sharply acute, downward pointing auricles in leaves and bracts. In addition, in S. oleraceus, the achenes are narrower, never winged at the margins, transversely rugulose and scabrous at maturity. Most of them are brown, but those of the outermost whorl are paler and more olive in colour (Hutchinson et al., 1984; ANHP, 2010).

                Prevention and Control

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                Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

                Control                     

                Physical/mechanical control

                Small or isolated populations of S. asper can be manually removed while plants are young, prior to seed set. The taproot must be removed, as resprouting can occur if left in the soil.

                Grazing of S. asper by cattle and sheep could be used to suppress infestations in pastures (GISD, 2018).

                Biological control

                In Australia, surveys searching for biological control agents of S. asper have identified the rust fungus Miyagia pseudosphaeria and an unidentified eriophyid mite species as potential candidates. However, studies determining the impact of these potential control agents on related native Australian species are still in progress (CSIRO, 2007; GISD, 2018).

                Chemical control

                Herbicides such as soxaben, 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, clopyralid, dicamba, glyphosate, picloram, Dimethyl tetrachloroterephthalate (DCPA), diethatyl-ethyl, MCPA, amitrole, atrazine, bromoxynil, chlorsulfuron, dichlorprop, isoxaben, norflurazon, oryzalin, oxyfluorfen and paraquat have been used to control infestations of S. asper in agricultural lands. However, S. asper has developed resistance to chlorsulfuron, atrazine and the herbicide metsulfuron-methyl (Rashid et al., 2003; GISD, 2018; Weeds of Australia, 2018). Biotypes resistant to the herbicides thifensulfuron, metsulfuron, prosulfuron, imazamox and imazethapyr have been found across North America, Australia and Europe (Park et al., 2012).

                References

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                Contributors

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                07/08/18 Original text by:

                Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA

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