Sonchus oleraceous

Smooth sow-thistle, hare"s lettuce                                                                  Τσόχος

Compositae -  daisy family                                                                            Dicot.


Just one of several yellow, dandelion-like plants to be found on Skopelos, Sonchus oleraceous contains high levels of nutritious vitamins and minerals. Its tender young leaves are often picked by the islanders, who call them zochos (τσόχος). The leaves are collected before flowering and the Skopelitians are highly skilled at recognising edible green herbs, collectively known as horta.

The bright yellow flower heads cluster at the top of tall, branched stems. The leaves, which clasp the stems are much less spiny than the similar and closely related prickly sow-thistle and are glabrous, meaning hairless.

3-4.5cm, 20-40cm, 
,, W                                     JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC

Sonchus from zochos, the Greek name for the plant

+ oleraceous from latin olus = pot herb

Horta  Χόρτα

Left to right above : zochos, maratho, paparoena

below: from left to right: kafkalithra, radiki and kefallas*

Foraging for wild food has become trendy over recent years in northern Europe  and America, where chefs from top restaurants from Amsterdam to New York feature wild foods on their menus.

In Greece collecting wild foods, has never gone out of fashion and specialised knowledge of plants in the local environment, particularly on the islands, has been passed from generation to generation. Collectively known as horta, wild greens add interest, flavour and health giving nutrients to the diet.             

On Skopelos wild green leaves are selected to be served as fresh piquant salads, boiled as green vegetables or made into the tasty pies, hortopita for which the island is famous.

Click here: For Horta lessons on Skopelosnews

*( Photograph with kind permission of Skopelos News)

Sonchus asper
Prickly sow thistleSonchus_asper.html
Spartium junceum
Spanish broomSpartium_junceum.html