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Great Lettuce

Lactuca virosa

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.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.

Plant Data

Flowering Months:
Asteraceae (Daisy)
Also in this family:
Annual Sunflower, Autumn Hawkbit, Beaked Hawksbeard, Black Knapweed, Black-eyed Susan, Blanketflower, Blue Fleabane, Blue Globe-thistle, Bristly Oxtongue, Butterbur, Buttonweed, Canadian Fleabane, Canadian Goldenrod, Carline Thistle, Chalk Knapweed, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Sow-thistle, Common Cat's-ear, Common Daisy, Common Dandelion, Common Fleabane, Common Goldenrod, Common Groundsel, Common Michaelmas Daisy, Common Mugwort, Common Ragwort, Confused Michaelmas Daisy, Corn Marigold, Cornflower, Creeping Thistle, Dwarf Thistle, Early Goldenrod, Feverfew, Field Wormwood, Fox and Cubs, Gallant Soldier, Garden Lettuce, Goat's Beard, Greater Burdock, Greater Knapweed, Grey-headed Hawkweed, Heath Groundsel, Hemp Agrimony, Hoary Ragwort, Lavender-cotton, Leopardsbane, Lesser Burdock, Lesser Hawkbit, Marsh Cudweed, Marsh Hawksbeard, Marsh Ragwort, Marsh Thistle, Melancholy Thistle, Mexican Fleabane, Mountain Everlasting, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Musk Thistle, Narrow-leaved Ragwort, New England Hawkweed, Nipplewort, Oxeye Daisy, Oxford Ragwort, Perennial Cornflower, Perennial Sow-thistle, Pineapple Mayweed, Ploughman's Spikenard, Pot Marigold, Prickly Lettuce, Prickly Sow-thistle, Red-seeded Dandelion, Rough Hawkbit, Rough Hawksbeard, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Sea Aster, Sea Mayweed, Sea Wormwood, Seaside Daisy, Shaggy Soldier, Shasta Daisy, Shrub Ragwort, Silver Ragwort, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sow-thistle, Sneezeweed, Sneezewort, Spear Thistle, Spotted Cat's-ear, Sticky Groundsel, Tansy, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tyneside Leopardplant, Wall Lettuce, White Buttons, Winter Heliotrope, Wood Burdock, Yarrow
Life Cycle:
Annual or Biennial
Maximum Size:
2 metres tall
Grassland, riverbanks, roadsides, rocks, sand dunes, sea cliffs, seaside, wasteland, waterside, woodland.

Yellow, many petals
The small yellow, short-stalked flowers are frequently tinged purple around the edges of the petals and below. Pollinated by insects.
A dark purple, oval fruit with winged edges. The fruit is white-beaked and has tufts of silvery hair. In fruit during August and September.
An annual or biennial plant, similar to Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca serriola) but taller. The greyish-green leaves are larger, wavy-edged and often flushed purple. The leaves have spines on their edges and along the midrib on the undersides. The base of the leaves are wrapped around their stems. The stems are covered in spines which can be green, red or purple.
Other Names:
Bitter Lettuce, Opium Lettuce, Poisonous Lettuce, Tall Lettuce, Wild Lettuce, Wild Opium Lettuce.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  
Similar Species:
Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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