Photographed in Phoenix, Maricopa Co., Arizona. 15 February 2015.
ANNUAL: Herbaceous annual that may grow low or taller depending on
conditions. Many leaves are basal (at ground level), with progressively smaller leaves
higher on the stems. When broken, stems exude milky sap. Established plants will have a
long tap root.
yellow, dandelion-like flower heads composed entirely of yellow strap-shaped florets.
Flowering mostly in spring.
Sow Thistle is a very common weed growing in urban areas of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. In Phoenix, for example, it grows from cracks in pavement, gardens, and vacant lots. Plants germinate from seed in early spring and are blooming by February. The plants are fairly tolerant of heat and survive until early part of the summer. The yellow inflorescence is open briefly for one day and only at dawn. A dandelion-like pappus at the top of each small seed allows them to be readily distributed by the wind. The leaf shape is very similar to the dandelion's as well, but Sow Thistle grows taller and branches freely whereas the common dandelion has the leaves all basal and the flowering stalk is unbranched. True dandelions are rare in the hot southwest deserts.
Asteraceae -- Sunflower Family
Sonoran Desert Field
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