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Garden Lettuce

Lactuca sativa

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asteraceae (Daisy)
Also in this family:
Alpine Blue Sow-thistle, Alpine Cotula, Alpine Fleabane, Alpine Saw-wort, Annual Ragweed, Annual Sunflower, Argentine Fleabane, Autumn Hawkbit, Autumn Oxeye, Beaked Hawksbeard, Beggarticks, Bilbao Fleabane, Black Knapweed, Black-eyed Susan, Blanketflower, Blue Fleabane, Blue Globe-thistle, Bristly Oxtongue, Broad-leaved Cudweed, Broad-leaved Ragwort, Brown Knapweed, Butterbur, Buttonweed, Cabbage Thistle, Canadian Fleabane, Canadian Goldenrod, Carline Thistle, Chalk Knapweed, Chamois Ragwort, Changing Michaelmas Daisy, Chicory, Chinese Mugwort, Chinese Ragwort, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Sow-thistle, Common Cat's-ear, Common Cudweed, Common Daisy, Common Dandelion, Common Fleabane, Common Goldenrod, Common Groundsel, Common Michaelmas Daisy, Common Mugwort, Common Ragwort, Common Wormwood, Coneflower, Confused Michaelmas Daisy, Corn Chamomile, Corn Marigold, Cornflower, Cotton Thistle, Cottonweed, Creeping Thistle, Daisy Bush, Dwarf Cudweed, Dwarf Thistle, Early Goldenrod, Eastern Groundsel, Eastern Leopardsbane, Elecampane, English Hawkweed, Fen Ragwort, Feverfew, Field Fleawort, Field Wormwood, Fox and Cubs, French Tarragon, Gallant Soldier, Giant Butterbur, Glabrous-headed Hawkweed, Glandular Globe-thistle, Glaucous Michaelmas Daisy, Globe Artichoke, Globe-thistle, Goat's Beard, Golden Ragwort, Golden Samphire, Goldilocks Aster, Grass-leaved Goldenrod, Great Lettuce, Greater Burdock, Greater Knapweed, Grey-headed Hawkweed, Guernsey Fleabane, Hairless Blue Sow-thistle, Hairless Leptinella, Hairy Michaelmas Daisy, Harpur Crewe's Leopardsbane, Hawkweed Oxtongue, Heath Cudweed, Heath Groundsel, Hemp Agrimony, Highland Cudweed, Hoary Mugwort, Hoary Ragwort, Hybrid Knapweed, Intermediate Burdock, Irish Fleabane, Jersey Cudweed, Jerusalem Artichoke, Lance-leaved Hawkweed, Lavender-cotton, Leafless Hawksbeard, Least Lettuce, Leopardplant, Leopardsbane, Leptinella, Lesser Burdock, Lesser Hawkbit, Lesser Sunflower, London Bur-marigold, Magellan Ragwort, Marsh Cudweed, Marsh Hawksbeard, Marsh Ragwort, Marsh Sow-thistle, Marsh Thistle, Meadow Thistle, Melancholy Thistle, Mexican Fleabane, Milk Thistle, Mountain Everlasting, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Musk Thistle, Narrow-leaved Cudweed, Narrow-leaved Hawkweed, Narrow-leaved Michaelmas Daisy, Narrow-leaved Ragwort, New England Hawkweed, New Zealand Holly, Nipplewort, Nodding Bur-marigold, Northern Hawksbeard, Norwegian Mugwort, Oxeye Daisy, Oxford Ragwort, Pearly Everlasting, Perennial Cornflower, Perennial Ragweed, Perennial Sow-thistle, Perennial Sunflower, Pineapple Mayweed, Plantain-leaved Leopardsbane, Ploughman's Spikenard, Plymouth Thistle, Pontic Blue Sow-thistle, Pot Marigold, Prickly Lettuce, Prickly Sow-thistle, Purple Coltsfoot, Rayed Tansy, Red Star Thistle, Red-seeded Dandelion, Red-tipped Cudweed, Robin's Plantain, Roman Chamomile, Rough Cocklebur, Rough Hawkbit, Rough Hawksbeard, Russian Lettuce, Safflower, Salsify, Saw-wort, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Sea Aster, Sea Mayweed, Sea Wormwood, Seaside Daisy, Shaggy Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shaggy Soldier, Shasta Daisy, Shetland Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shrub Ragwort, Sicilian Chamomile, Silver Ragwort, Slender Mugwort, Slender Thistle, Small Cudweed, Small Fleabane, Smooth Cat's-ear, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sow-thistle, Sneezeweed, Sneezewort, Spear Thistle, Spotted Cat's-ear, Spotted Hawkweed, Sticky Groundsel, Stinking Chamomile, Stinking Hawksbeard, Tall Fleabane, Tall Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Tansy, Thin-leaved Sunflower, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tuberous Thistle, Tyneside Leopardplant, Viper's Grass, Wall Lettuce, Welsh Groundsel, Welted Thistle, White Butterbur, White Buttons, Willdenow's Leopardsbane, Winter Heliotrope, Wood Burdock, Wood Ragwort, Woody Fleabane, Woolly Thistle, Yarrow, Yellow Chamomile, Yellow Fox and Cubs, Yellow Oxeye, Yellow Star Thistle, Yellow Thistle, York Groundsel
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, wasteland.

Yellow, many petals
The flowers are grouped together in clusters. Not showy. Pollinated by flies.
An achene which has 5 to 7 ribs on either side and is tipped by a tuft of hairs (the pappus).
An annual (or sometimes biennial) plant which can occasionally be found growing on abandoned allotments. The leaves come in a wide range of colours from red and purple to the more usual green. The leaves are most often quite large, normally untoothed (but not always), crinkly (also not always) and succulent. They normally grow packed together in a tight bunch at ground level.
Other Names:
Cultivated Lettuce.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Lactuca sativa is a species of lettuce that is commonly known as "garden lettuce" or "cultivated lettuce." It is a annual herb that is grown for its edible leaves. It is native to the Mediterranean region and it is one of the oldest cultivated crops, with evidence of its cultivation dating back to ancient Egypt and Greece.

It has a wide variety of forms, from loose-leaf to head lettuce (also called Iceberg lettuce), and it comes in different colors such as green, red and purple. The leaves are typically soft and crisp, and they are used in salads and as a garnish for various dishes.

Lettuce is a low-calorie vegetable that is a good source of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin K, vitamin A and folate. It is also rich in antioxidants, which are beneficial for the overall health.

Lettuce is very easy to grow, it can be planted in gardens, containers, and also in hydroponic systems. It can be sown directly in the ground or in seed trays and planted out when large enough to handle. Lettuce prefers cool weather, and it can be planted in the spring or in the fall, depending on the climate.


Garden lettuce, scientifically known as Lactuca sativa, is a popular leafy green vegetable that is often used in salads, sandwiches, and other dishes. It is a member of the Asteraceae family and is closely related to other leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and arugula. Garden lettuce is a cool-weather crop and is typically grown in the spring or fall.

There are many different varieties of garden lettuce, each with its own unique characteristics. Some of the most popular varieties include butterhead, romaine, and looseleaf lettuce. Butterhead lettuce has a soft, buttery texture and a sweet flavor, while romaine lettuce is more crunchy and has a slightly bitter taste. Looseleaf lettuce has a delicate texture and comes in a variety of colors, including green, red, and purple.

Garden lettuce is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, and iron. It is also low in calories and high in fiber, making it an excellent choice for people who are looking to maintain a healthy diet. In addition, garden lettuce contains antioxidants, which can help to reduce inflammation and protect against chronic diseases.

Growing garden lettuce is relatively easy, and it can be grown in both containers and garden beds. It prefers well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter and should be watered regularly to keep the soil moist. Garden lettuce should be planted in a location that receives partial shade, as it prefers cooler temperatures and can wilt in hot, direct sunlight.

To harvest garden lettuce, wait until the leaves are fully mature and have a crisp texture. Harvesting the leaves in the morning when they are still cool can help to preserve their flavor and texture. To prolong the growing season, garden lettuce can be planted in succession every few weeks.

Garden lettuce is a versatile and nutritious vegetable that is easy to grow and can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes. With its rich flavor and texture, it is sure to be a favorite of gardeners and food enthusiasts alike. Whether grown in a garden bed or a container, garden lettuce is a great choice for anyone looking to add more leafy greens to their diet.

Garden lettuce has been cultivated for thousands of years and has a long history of use in both culinary and medicinal applications. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all valued lettuce for its health benefits and culinary versatility. In fact, the word "lettuce" comes from the Latin word "lactuca," which means "milk," referring to the milky sap that is present in the stem of the lettuce plant.

In addition to its use in salads and sandwiches, garden lettuce can also be used in a variety of other dishes. It can be sautéed or stir-fried, used as a topping for pizza or tacos, or even blended into a smoothie. Some varieties of lettuce, such as romaine, can also be grilled for a unique and delicious flavor.

One of the great things about garden lettuce is its versatility. With so many different varieties and flavors to choose from, it can be used in a wide range of dishes and can be adapted to suit any taste preference. For example, looseleaf lettuce can add a delicate flavor and texture to a salad, while romaine lettuce can add a crunchy, slightly bitter taste.

Another benefit of growing garden lettuce is that it is relatively easy to cultivate and can be grown in a wide range of climates. In addition, it is a fast-growing crop, with some varieties ready to harvest in as little as 30 days. This makes it a great choice for gardeners who are looking for a quick and easy crop to grow.

In addition to its culinary uses, garden lettuce has also been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. The milky sap that is present in the stem of the lettuce plant contains a compound called lactucarium, which has mild sedative and analgesic properties. In traditional medicine, lettuce has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including insomnia, anxiety, and pain.

While more research is needed to fully understand the potential health benefits of garden lettuce, studies have shown that consuming lettuce may be beneficial for a number of health conditions. For example, the antioxidants present in lettuce may help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Additionally, the fiber in lettuce can help to promote healthy digestion and may even aid in weight loss.

When it comes to selecting and storing garden lettuce, it is important to choose fresh, crisp leaves that are free from blemishes or discoloration. Store lettuce in the refrigerator and use within a few days for best flavor and texture.

Incorporating Garden Lettuce into your meals

There are many creative and delicious ways to incorporate garden lettuce into your meals. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Salad: Of course, the most obvious way to enjoy garden lettuce is in a salad. Combine fresh, crisp lettuce leaves with other veggies, nuts, seeds, and a flavorful dressing for a nutritious and satisfying meal.

  2. Lettuce wraps: Use large lettuce leaves, such as romaine or butterhead, as a wrap for filling. Try filling them with a mix of veggies, protein, and flavorful sauce for a low-carb and satisfying meal.

  3. Sandwiches and wraps: Use lettuce leaves as a base for sandwiches or wraps instead of bread or tortillas. This is a great way to add some extra nutrition and crunch to your favorite sandwich or wrap recipe.

  4. Smoothies: Yes, you read that right! Adding lettuce leaves to your smoothies is a great way to boost the nutrient content without affecting the flavor too much. Try blending up some lettuce with fruits, veggies, and your favorite milk or yogurt for a refreshing and healthy smoothie.

  5. Grilled lettuce: For a unique and flavorful twist, try grilling your lettuce. Romaine lettuce is a great choice for grilling, as it holds up well to the heat. Simply brush with some olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill for a few minutes on each side until charred and slightly wilted.

Overall, garden lettuce is a versatile and nutritious vegetable that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Whether you prefer it in a salad, wrap, sandwich, smoothie, or even grilled, there are many creative and delicious ways to incorporate this delicious leafy green into your meals.


Garden lettuce, or Lactuca sativa, is a popular and versatile vegetable that has been cultivated for thousands of years. It is a fast-growing crop that is relatively easy to cultivate and can be grown in a wide range of climates. Garden lettuce is a nutritious and delicious vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes, including salads, sandwiches, wraps, smoothies, and even grilled. It has also been used for its medicinal properties for centuries, with traditional medicine using it to treat insomnia, anxiety, and pain.

Some Facts about Garden Lettuce

  • The word "lettuce" comes from the Latin word "lactuca," which means "milk," referring to the milky sap that is present in the stem of the lettuce plant.
  • Garden lettuce has been cultivated for thousands of years and was valued by ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for its health benefits and culinary versatility.
  • Garden lettuce is a fast-growing crop, with some varieties ready to harvest in as little as 30 days.
  • The milky sap in the stem of the lettuce plant contains a compound called lactucarium, which has mild sedative and analgesic properties.
  • Garden lettuce is a good source of fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients, making it a nutritious addition to any diet.
  • There are many different varieties of garden lettuce, each with its own unique flavor and texture. Some of the most popular varieties include romaine, butterhead, and looseleaf.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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