Lactuca

 

Botanical Name : Lactuca ludoviciana
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Cichorieae
Genus: Lactuca
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Name :Lactuca,Lettuce,Larkspur, Western Wild Lettuce, Biannual lettuce

Habitat :
Lactuca is native to Eastern N. America – Manitoba to Wisconsin and southwards. It grows on prairies, low ground and roadsides. Usually found in calcareous soils.
The genus includes about 100 species, distributed worldwide, but mainly in temperate Eurasia.

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Description:It is a Biennial herb,(some of them are annuals or perennials out of 100 specis.) growing to a height 3-6 feet

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Stems:   Erect, usually unbranched below, glabrous, containing sticky, brownish latex.

Leaves:   Alternate, simple to pinnately lobed, sessile or clasping, ovate to obovate, 8 to 12 inches long, 2 to 4 inches wide; midribs on underside of blades sometimes bristly; margins conspicuously spiny-toothed.

Inflorescences:   Panicles, open, cone-shaped; heads terminal, 50-100 heads; bracts lance-shaped, about 1/2 inch long.

Flowers:   Ray florets 20-30, light blue, pale yellow, or bluish with yellow tips; disk florets absent.

Fruits:   Achenes, flat, dark brown, enclosing small seed; beaks thread-like, tipped with numerous white bristles.

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Flowering Period:   July, August, September.

Cultivation:
Prefers a light sandy loam. Hybridizes in the wild with L. canadensis and the two species can sometimes be difficult to separate.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in situ and only just cover the seed. Germination is usually fairly quick.

Edible Uses: Young leaves – raw or cooked

Medicinal Uses:
The whole plant is rich in a milky sap that flows freely from any wounds. This hardens and dries when in contact with the air. The sap contains ‘lactucarium‘, which is used in medicine for its anodyne, antispasmodic, digestive, diuretic, hypnotic, narcotic and sedative properties. Lactucarium has the effects of a feeble opium, but without its tendency to cause digestive upsets, nor is it addictive. It is taken internally in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, neuroses, hyperactivity in children, dry coughs, whooping cough, rheumatic pain etc. Concentrations of lactucarium are low in young plants and most concentrated when the plant comes into flower. It is collected commercially by cutting the heads of the plants and scraping the juice into china vessels several times a day until the plant is exhausted. An infusion of the fresh or dried flowering plant can also be used. The plant should be used with caution, and never without the supervision of a skilled practitioner. Even normal doses can cause drowsiness whilst excess causes restlessness and overdoses can cause death through cardiac paralysis. Some physicians believe that any effects of this medicine are caused by the mind of the patient rather than by the medicine. The sap has also been applied externally in the treatment of warts.

Known Hazards :  Although no specific mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, many plants in this genus contain a narcotic principle, this is at its most concentrated when the plant begins to flower. This principle has been almost bred out of the cultivated forms of lettuce but is produced when the plant starts to go to seed.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Resources:
http://www.kswildflower.org/flower_details.php?flowerID=59

http://search.myway.com/search/GGcached.jhtml?pg=GGmain&ord=4&action=click&searchfor=Lactuca%2Bludoviciana%2529%253A&curl=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FLactuca&isDirResults=false&tpr=sbt&cid=J85CBUvtjl4J&st=site&ct=GC

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Lactuca+ludoviciana

 

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