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Wild Lettuce

(Lactuca canadensis)

Range:

Identifying characteristics:

Common commercial lettuce is a hybrid of wild lettuce, but it's looks, texture, and taste is completely different. In the spring wild lettuce has a basal rosette similar looking to dandelion 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. I guess that could be a new video series, "Dandelions Gone Wild" ha ha ha...

 

Hairy lettuce has hairs on the underside, and prickly lettuce has pickers. Again, both of these are also edible, and with a little work, quite tasty. Chicory, another look alike has a thin line of hairs on the underside of the midrib of the leaf

Habitat:

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

Parts Used:

Leaves, Flowers

Uses:

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.

Medicinal Uses:

None Known

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Revised: 06/01/11 Living Afield