The Rabbit’s Favourite

It is a scene so common that it is far too often ignored.  Whether you’re walking in the countryside or simply past an abandoned building then there are likely to be a few dozen specimen of the smooth sow thistle colouring things up even though most of those who pass by are unlikely to give it much notice.

This plant is one of the most common wild plants on the Maltese islands, virtually found in every corner.  Perhaps it is because of this familiarity that people seem blind to them or perhaps because the flowers that it produces aren’t imposing enough to encourage picking.  Whatever the reason there certainly aren’t many who bother to take a closer look.

If they did then they would undoubtedly come to appreciate this wonderful little flower, the intricacies of its petals and its deep yellow colouring.

The few who do appreciate this plant probably do so for reasons that are different from its looks.  In fact, it is widely known that rabbits are extremely fond the smooth sow thistle and those who rear rabbits try to provide it to them as a treat.  

There was a time, now long gone, when this plant was also eaten by people along with other vegetables largely because it was available rather than for its taste.  There is no longer the need for that so now it is only rabbits who look forward to eating it.

Botanical Name: Sonchus Oleraceus

Common name: Smooth Sow Thistle (English) Tfief Komuni (Maltese)

Family:  Asteraceae (Daisy Family)

For more information about the smooth sow thistle, check out the entry in the Malta Wild Plants online registry.


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