Herbals: Wild Lettuce, Lactuca sp.

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.


About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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6 Responses to Herbals: Wild Lettuce, Lactuca sp.

  1. Helen says:

    I’ve never come across wild lettuce. Do you have any photos?

  2. Helen, I don’t use it but I saw it across the parking lost quick enough. I have enough property now for most anything!

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