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Botanical Name: Lactuca serriola
Species: L. serriola
Common Name: Common Name: Prickly Lettuce. milk thistle (not to be confused with Silybum marianum, also called milk thistle) compass plant, and scarole.
Habitat :Lactuca serriola is native to Europe, Asia, and north Africa, and has become naturalized elsewhere. It grows in waste places, walls, occasionally on more or less stable dunes.
Lactuca serriola is an annual or binnial plant. It has a spineless reddish stem, containing a milky latex, growing from 30 to 200 cm. The leaves get progressively smaller as they reach its top. They are oblong lanceolate, often pinnate and (especially for the lower leaves), waxy grey green. Fine spines are present along the veins and leaf edges. The undersides have whitish veins. They emit latex when cut. The flower heads are 11 to 13mm wide, are pale yellow, often tinged purple. The bracts are also often tinged purple. It flowers from July until September. The achenes are grey, tipped with bristles. The pappus is white with equal length hairs….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Cultivation: Prefers a light sandy loam in a sunny position. The wild lettuce is cultivated for the oil in its seed in Egypt. A compass plant, the top leaves align north-south.
Propagation:..…Seed – sow spring in situ and only just cover the seed. Germination is usually fairly quick.
Edible Uses: Young leaves are eaten raw as salad or cooked. A bitter flavour. The young tender leaves are mild and make an excellent salad, but the whole plant becomes bitter as it gets older, especially when coming into flower. As a potherb it needs very little cooking. Large quantities can cause digestive upsets. Young shoots – cooked. Used as an asparagus substitute. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. The oil must be refined before it is edible. A pleasant flavour.
Anodyne; Antipyretic; Diuretic; Homeopathy; Hypnotic; Narcotic; Sedative.
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. This species does not contain as much lactucarium as L. virosa. An infusion of the fresh or dried flowering plant can also be used. Lettuce, White: (Nabalus albus): The Chippewa doctor considered this a milk root and used the root as a remedy for female complaints, possibly as a douche in leucorrhea, to help arrest the discomforting white discharge of the vagina. At the same time a tea of the leaves was taken as a diuretic to flush the poisons from the urinary organs. To the Indians, the oozing bitter juice also corresponded to the pus of a sore, for which purpose he applied a poultice of the leaves to the bites of snakes and insects. In time, the herb became better known for its content of the astringent tannic acid and was used not only in dysentery but as an everyday vulnerary, to heal cancerous and canker sores. The powdered root is sprinkled on food to stimulate milk flow after childbirth. A tea made from the roots is used as a wash for weakness. A latex in the stems is diuretic it is used in female diseases. It is also taken internally in the treatment of snakebite. . Used in diarrhea and relaxed and debilitated conditions of the bowels.
Other Uses: The seed contains 35.2% of a semi-drying oil. It is used in soap making, paints, varnishes etc.
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.