Mystery plant

Can someone identify this plant? It was growing under my 2 year old's climbing wall / play house thing. I live in West Virginia, USA and it's currently June 3rd (if that helps from a climate standpoint).

I know there are some potentially dangerous invasive plants like the giant hogweed. I hope someone here can help me identify this and give me any tips on what to do about it if it is in fact hogweed.

  • $\begingroup$ My guess, some kind of wild lettuce. $\endgroup$ Jun 4, 2015 at 2:10
  • $\begingroup$ Looks similar to spiny leaved sow thistle, but I'm no expert on plants. $\endgroup$
    – blep
    Jun 4, 2015 at 2:58
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Your question is fine but I would request that you clearly explain your geographical location instead of using the US state codes. We have users from all over the globe and not everyone would be aware of these codes. Also, it is good to describe the climate and other geological details especially if the place you are referring to is not likely to be known by many (in any case, it is generally a good practice and your post becomes more useful to others). $\endgroup$
    Jun 4, 2015 at 10:20

1 Answer 1


As @dd3 stated, it's a spiny (or prickly) sow thistle. It's an annual common in most of the US.

The leaf itself does not have a stem, and if you break the central stalk, it should be hollow and there should be a milky exudate. The plant spreads by fluffy seeds produced from a small dandelion-like flower.

If you pick it while young, it won't hurt (as much); if you prevent it from flowering, it should not spread, although unsprouted seeds can sprout still for a few years (it can come in on the wind as well.)

enter image description here

Prickly Sowthistle


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