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Products > Sonchus canariensis
 
Sonchus canariensis - Tree Sonchus
   

[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Asteraceae (Sunflowers)
Origin: Canary Islands (Atlantic Ocean)
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Synonyms: [S. pinnatus var. canariensis]
Height: 6-8 feet
Width: 4-6 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Sonchus canariensis (Tree Sonchus) A tall upright growing shrub to 6-8' tall with unusual 12 to 18 inch long deeply cleft pinnate leaves (technically called pinnatisect) clustered near the branch tips and stout stems bearing large clusters of lemon-yellow dandelion-like flowers that rise above the foliage from spring into summer. Plant in full sun to part shade with little to regular irrigation. Tolerates most soil types so long as it has decent drainage. Hardy to around 25-28 F - our plants had only tip damage in the January 2007 cold spell when we had 3 nights in a row that went down to 25 F. This dramatic and unusual plant has very attractive dissected foliage and can be stunning in bloom. Its form is a bit odd and is best when allowed to sprout at the base to make a multi-trunked narrow shrub or miniature tree - looks like a plant from a Dr. Seuss book. Can be kept as more of a single stemmed plant, which makes it look a bit like a tree fern, or one can pinch the growth tip of a young plant to encourage it to branch. The flowers are very attractive to honey bees though the stems bearing the flowers usually die back after flowering and should be trimmed out. This plant is rare in its natural habit in in the Canary Islands where it is found in the southern region of Tenerife Island and in a couple canyons on Gran Canaria Island and is similar to Sonchus palmensis, which only grows on La Palma Island. Both of these species have been at times listed as varieties or subspecies of Sonchus hierrensis and Sonchus pinnatus and in Zoe and David Bramwell's Wildflowers of the Canary Island the differences between these two have been described with Sonchus canariensis being the taller, up to 3 meters tall with larger flower heads, that are up to 1.5 cm wide, in a more open inflorescence. Sonchus palmensis is noted as growing to 2 meters tall with dense inflorescence of much smaller heads of flowers containing fewer florets. The name for the genus is a name given to the sow thistle by the Ancient Greeks and the specific epithet references where this particular plant is from, though there are a total of at least 24 species of Sonchus found in the Canary Islands. Our thanks go out to John Bleck for introducing us to this strange, yet attractive, plant which we have grown since 2004.  This description is based on our research and observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We also try to incorporate comments received from others and appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information about this plant, particularly if they disagree with what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Sonchus canariensis.