Although I am not an herbal practitioner, I have several herbal books. Medicinal plants have fallen out of use in our society; however, due to their untold value to human beings, I accumulate as many of the medicinal plants as I can.
Two summers ago when I was working like crazy because we were shorthanded, there were several wild lettuce plants growing through the cracks in our parking lot. I didn’t look at them too closely, knowing they are Lactuca was enough for me to collect some seed, so I kept watch for blooms and seeds as I rushed past every day. These little wraiths were about 12 inches tall.
One day as I sailed past, I saw the seeds ready to blow away like dandelion puffs (Asteraceae family) and circled back to grab them. I did not take a closer look to see just what I had in my hand. As I left work that night, one of the guys had run the area with a weed eater and they were gone!
Rushing home with seed in hand, I tossed them into the Amaranth patch since they like similar conditions.
Last summer I had torrents of rain and we were still crazy shorthanded at work, so when those bad boys got over 6 feet tall I was shocked… in New Mexico? Still didn’t get to their corner for ID because I was also wearing myself out moving 5 tons of concrete block off the pallets and stacking them for temporary skirting for my trailerstead, and for my future small house.
I am ashamed to admit that I still don’t know which Lactuca species I have. An old gal can only do so much.
In any event, I am glad it is here. Wild lettuce is a powerful medicinal that was once used much like opium. Even after Western doctors starting using highly addictive opium, they still used Wild Lettuce occasionally. It is not addictive and I value it as a potent medicinal.
I am not an herbal practitioner, and don’t use any of the medicinals that I grow. I like knowing they are there. A serious pain reliever like Wild Lettuce, whichever Lactuca species it is, gives me comfort just knowing it is in my garden. In any event, I have added a valuable species to my Food Forest.