Tall Blue Lettuce

(Lactuca biennis)

Other Names:
blue wood lettuce


Asteraceae - Daisy Family

Growth Type:
herbaceous biennial

2 - 10 ft in height

There are deeply lobed, toothed leaves all along the stem.

Tall erect redish/purplish stem


Flower Season:
Mid summer to Autumn

Flower Appearance:
Branching clusters of blue to whitish tube shaped flowers about 1/2 inch long.

Flower ripen to form small seed heads containing brown, flattened, seeds.

Miscellaneous characteristics:
L. biennis is very similar in size and characteristic to L. canadensis.

Shaded areas with moist rich soils

Parts Used:
Roots medicinally

Wild Food Uses:
None known

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:
Decoct the roots to treat pain. There is anecdotal evidence that root decoction has been used historically to treat cardiac problems, diarrhea and vomiting.

I tincured a very large specimine. I prepared a tincture of the roots, one of the stem, and one of the leaves. I was interested to see the differences in the actions between the tinctures. My results were as follows:

Tinctured leaves: Actons - Analgesic and Nervine. The pain relief and calming actions of the leaf tincture were fine for mild to moderate symptoms. The leaf tincture did not work as well for extreme pain.
Tinctured Stem: Actons - Analgesic and Nervine. The pain relief and calming actions of the stem tincture were very similar to those of the leaf tincture.
Tinctured Roots: Actons - Analgesic, Narcotic, Nervine, Sedative. The root tincture was the strongest of all. The pain relief and calming effects were great. I was very surprised by the narcotic effects of this tincture. They were also quite long lasting. I noticed the effects took about 45 minutes to manifest, but then they lasted for at least 4 hours. They also allowed me to obtain a recuperative sleep.

This plant contains a white, milky, latex, sap called lactucarium. This sap is present in the leaves, stem, and roots of the plant. When the plant is young, there is very little of this latex sap, but levels increase as the plant matures. It is medicinally strongest when the plant is in flower. This plant is prized for its relaxing and sedative properties. There is anecdotal evidence that it was used historically as an effective pain reliever. There are members of the Lactuca genus who's sap has a narcotic effect. Historically this plant has been used to ease anxiety, to induce sleep, and as a mild hypnotic. It's effects are said to be similar to those of opiates. That led to the common name poor man's opium.

Medicinal Actions:
Analgesic, Antiemetic, Haemostatic, Narcotic, Nervine, Sedative

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