Botanical Name: Lactuca triangulata
Species: Lactuca triangulata
Common Names: Lactuca triangulata var. sachalinensis Kitamura; Pterocypsela triangulata (Maximowicz) C. Shih.
Habitat : Lactuca triangulata is native to E. Asia – China, Japan. It grows on grasslands on mountain slopes, mountain forests, forest margins, trailsides; 700-1900 m. Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Shanxi [Japan, Korea, SE Russia].
Lactuca triangulata is a biennial or perennial herb growing 1M tall. Roots ramose. Stem solitary, usually purplish red, erect, branched in apical half or third, glabrous. Lower and middle stem leaves ± glabrous, margin with unequal and triangular teeth; basal portion winged petiole-like, 6-13 cm, base broadly auriculately to hastately clasping stem; apical portion triangular, broadly ovate, or broadly ovate-cordate, 8.5-13 × 9-16 cm. Upper stem leaves similar to middle stem leaves or basally shortly cuneate or winged petiole-like and auriculately or sagittately clasping and apically elliptic to rhombic. Uppermost leaves with semiamplexicaul base. Synflorescence rather narrowly paniculiform, with numerous capitula. Capitula with 10-16 florets. Involucre cylindric, 1-1.1 cm at anthesis, to 1.5 × 0.5-0.6 cm in fruit. Outer phyllaries narrowly triangular to lanceolate, longest ca. 7 × 1 mm, apex acute; inner phyllaries 8, usually purplish red, apex acute to obtuse. Florets yellow. Achene 4-6 mm; body blackish, reddish, or dark brown, ellipsoid, compressed, broadly winged, 2-2.5 mm wide, with 1(or 2) prominent rib on either side, apically contracted into an apically pale stout 0.1-0.5 mm beak. Pappus 6-8 mm, caducous. It is in flower during June-July and fruit comes in August- September.
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.
Cultivation: Prefers a light sandy loam in a sunny position. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Propagation : Seed – sow spring in situ and only just cover the seed. Germination is usually fairly quick.
Edible Uses: Leaves – cooked. They are sometimes eaten.
Although we have seen no specific reports for this species, 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.