Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Lactuca perennis

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Botanical Name: Lactuca perennis
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Lactuca
Species: L. perennis
Order: Asterales

Common Names: Mountain lettuce,Blue lettuce or Perennial lettuce
Other Names:
Nome italiano: Lattuga rupestre
English name: Mountain Lettuce
French name: Laitue perenne
Spanish name: lechuga azul
German name: Blauer Lattich
Swedish name: blåsallat

Habitat: Lactuca perennis is native to S. Europe. It grows on the rocky or other dry places, especially on calcareous soils.
Lactuca perennis is a perennial plant. It reaches on average 60 centimetres (24 in) of height, with a minimum height of 20 centimetres (7.9 in). This plant is glabrous, the stems is erect and branched, leaves are greyish-green, the lower ones with a small petioles, the upper ones partly amplexicaul. It is hermaphrodite and entomophilous. The flowers are violet-blue, with a size of 30–40 millimetres (1.2–1.6 in). It is not frost tender. The flowering period extends from April through August and the seeds ripen from July until September.

The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Prefers a light well-drained sandy loam and a sunny position. Plants are hardy to about -25°c.

Seed – sow April in a greenhouse, only just covering the seed. Germination is usually fairly quick When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring. It is best to pot up the divisions and keep them in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer. Root cuttings in spring.
Edible Uses:
Leaves – raw or cooked. The leaves are often blanched to reduce any bitterness. They are fairly acceptable raw in salads (even without being blanched), especially in late winter and spring when the flavour is quite mild. The leaves do become much more bitter in the summer, however, especially as the plant comes into flower.

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. It is especially useful as sedative, but the plant should be used with caution.

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.