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Wild Lettuce (Lactuca canadensis)

Other Names:

Canada lettuce, Canada wild lettuce, tall lettuce



Asteraceae Aster family

Identifying characteristics:

Growth Type:

Biennial herbaceous


1 - 3 feet tall


The leaves are arranged in a basal rosette, and looking similar to lettuce and chicory, both close relatives. All of these are edible, and they have no poisonous look-alikes, so in the spring, if you see what looks like a dandelion, pick it and eat it. The leaves of Lactuca canadensis have a white milky sap when broken. The leaves are light green, heavily lobed, or toothed, and hairless.


The stem is is powdered with a blue-green, waxy bloom. In late spring to early summer, the basal rosette sprouts a tall, branched, scraggly flower stalk.







The flower stalk has yellow ray-like flowers similar to that of dandelion. As a matter of fact, at this stage, wild lettuce resembles a dandelion gone wild.


Flowers ripen to produce a seed head similar to that of dandelion.

Miscellaneous characteristics:



Disturbed areas, Lawns, lawn edges, along walkways and paths. In overgrown fields, and other open areas.

Parts Used:

Leaves, Flowers


Wild Food Uses:

Add young leaves and crowns to salads. Use as a cooked vegetable similar to spinach. The flowers can be dipped in batter and fried like fritters. I have also heard the flowers can be used for wine making, but I have not personally tried this. Use the leaves and flowers just as you would a dandelion, or chicory.

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:

None known

Medicinal Actions:

None known

This photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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Revised: 05/14/15 Living Afield


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