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Botanical Name: Lactuca indica laciniata
Synonyms : L. laciniata. L. squarrosa. Miq.
Lactuca amurensis Regel ex Maximovicz; Lactuca indica L. var. laciniata (Houttuyn) Hara; Lactuca laciniata (Houttuyn) Makino; Lactuca saligna Loureiro, non L.; Lactuca squarrosa (Thunberg) Miquel; Lactuca squarrosa (Thunberg) Miquel var. laciniata Kuntze; Lactuca mauritiana Poiret; Lactuca brevirostris Champion ex Bentham; Lactuca amurensis Regel ex Maximovicz; Leontodon acutissimus Noronha; Prenanthes laciniata Houttuyn; Prenanthes squarrosa Thunberg; Pterocypsela indica (L.) C. Shih.
Common name: (Japanese common name) aki-no-no-geshi [autumn wild poppy]
(English common name) Indian lettuce
Habitat:Lactuca indica laciniata is native to E. Asia. It grows on the grassy places in lowland all over Japan.
Lactuca indica laciniata is a perennial plant, growing to 1.2 m (4ft).
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.
A plant of the moist tropics, where it can be grown at elevations up to 2,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 – 34°c, but can tolerate 10 – 40°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 – 2,500mm, but tolerates 1,000 – 3,000mm. Grows best in a sunny position. Prefers a light sandy loam, but succeeds in a wide range of well-drained, fertile soils. Prefers a pH in the range 5 – 6, tolerating 4.5 – 6.5.
It takes about 60 days from seed sowing until the first leaves are harvested. A first harvest of leaves can be taken after 30 – 60 days, when the plants are about 50cm tall. Yields of the leaves may be up to 10 – 20 tonnes per hectare.
Seed – sow early spring in a warm greenhouse, only just covering the seed. Germination is usually rapid, prick out the seedlings when large enough to handle and plant out after the last expected frosts. Division in spring. Make sure each piece of root has a leaf bud. Root cuttings in late winter.
Edible Uses: Leaves – raw or cooked. Added to salads or soups.
The plant is digestive and tonic.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.