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Prickly Lettuce

Lactuca scariola L.

Prickly lettuce
Figure 88.— Prickly lettuce (Lactuca scariola)
Synonym.Lactuca virosa Amer. auth., not L.

Other common names.—Wild opium, wild lettuce.

Habitat and range.—The prickly lettuce occurs in fields and waste places from Vermont to Georgia and westward to the Pacific coast.

Description.—This is a bright-green plant, from 2 to 7 feet high, covered with a whitish bloom. It has an erect, rigid stem sometimes smooth throughout but at times hairy at the base, with numerous clasping, oblong lance-shaped leaves with finely toothed margins and spiny bristles along the under side of the midrib. The lower leaves are at times 10 inches long and 3 inches wide, but the upper ones are much smaller. The pale yellow flowers, which appear in the early fall, occur in very numerous heads up to a third of an inch broad, having the feathery appearance of the ripe dandelion bloom, arranged in open clusters, each head consisting of 6 to 12 flowers.

Part used.—The leaves.

Sievers, A.F. 1930. The Herb Hunters Guide. Misc. Publ. No. 77. USDA, Washington DC.
Last update Friday, April 3, 1998 by aw