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Common Names: Western Wild Lettuce, Biannual lettuce(Biennials are herbaceous plants that live two years, flowering the second)
Habitat: Lactuca ludoviciana is native to Eastern N. America – Manitoba to Wisconsin and southwards. IT grows on prairies, low ground and roadsides. Usually found in calcareous soils.
Lactuca ludoviciana is an biennial herb in the dandelion tribe within the daisy family growing from a taproot a height of up to 150 cm (5 feet). The top of the stem bears a multibranched inflorescence with many flower heads. Each head contains 20-50 yellow ray florets but no disc florets. Leaves on proximal 1/2–3/4 of each stem; blades of undivided cauline leaves obovate or oblanceolate to spatulate, margins denticulate (piloso-ciliate), midribs usually piloso-setose. Heads in paniculiform arrays. Involucres 12–15+ mm. Phyllaries usually reflexed in fruit. Florets 20–50+; corollas usually yellow, sometimes bluish, usually deliquescent. Cypselae: bodies brown to blackish (usually mottled), ± flattened, elliptic, 4.5–5+ mm, beaks ± filiform, 2.5–4.5 mm, faces 1(–3)-nerved; pappi white, 5–7(–11) mm. 2n = 34.
The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
The plant grows well in light sandy loam. Hybridizes in the wild with L. canadensis and the two species can sometimes be difficult to separate.
Seed – sow spring in situ and only just cover the seed. Germination is usually fairly quick.
Edible Uses: The leaves are eatet raw or cooked.
Most if not all members of the genus have a milky sap that contains the substance ‘lactucarium’ and can probably be used as the report below details. 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 supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.