drawing of sow thistle/ pūhā leaves

Sonchus sp..

Family: Asteraceae

Pūhā or Sow thistle, is a common ‘weed’ throughout New Zealand. It is also found in the United Kingdom and Europe. It can be confused with dandelion as they both have yellow flowers and similar looking leaves. It has a classic blue/green/grey look to the leaves that really defines it as pūhā. There are many different species, and all of them are edible.

Time to harvest: Spring to mid summer

Ask for permission

Nutrition: Rich in Vitamin C (the same amount as oranges)

Recipes: Pickled puha, boil up, spring greens wild pesto, pickle the flowerbud like capers, on your pizza, in a smoothie.

How to prepare:

Generally it’s best to rub the leaves together and bruise them to reduce the bitterness. If you are using an older plant, then just use the leaves. Bruise the stalk and let out some of the white sap, under the tap. Aparently the sap has been collected by Māori, left to dry and used as a chewing gum.


Cooper,R.C, Brooker, S.G, Cambie, R.C. (1987) New Zealand Medicinal Plants. Auckland, NZ: Reed.

Crowe, A. (2004). A Field Guide to the Native Edible Plants of New Zealand. Rosedale,Northshore, NZ: Penguin

Fiso, M.(2020) Hiakai. Modern Māori Cuisine. New Zealand:Penguin

Knox, J.(2021) The Forager’s Treasury. Allen & Unwin, Auckland, NZ.