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Lactuca - (L.)Waller.                
                 
Common Name Blue Sow Thistle
Family Asteraceae or Compositae
Synonyms Lactuca alpina. Sonchus alpinus.
Known Hazards None known
Habitats A very rare native of Scotland, growing on alpine rock in moist places[17].
Range Mountainous regions of C. Europe, including Britain, from Norway to the Pyrenees.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Lactuca is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.3 m (1ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, beetles, lepidoptera.The plant is self-fertile.


USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

Lactuca Blue Sow Thistle


Lactuca Blue Sow Thistle
   
Habitats       
Edible Uses                                         
Young shoots and stems - raw[4, 105]. The skin is first removed, but the shoots are still rather bitter and unpalatable[4, K]. Older stems can also be peeled and eaten raw[105, 177, 183] but have a bitter taste[2].
Composition                                         
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaves (Fresh weight)
  • 0 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 92.9%
  • Protein: 2.1g; Fat: 0g; Carbohydrate: 3g; Fibre: 0.5g; Ash: 1.2g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 26mg; Phosphorus: 30mg; Iron: 0.7mg; Magnesium: 10mg; Sodium: 3mg; Potassium: 208mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 2200mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0.4mg; B6: 0mg; C: 15mg;
  • Reference: [ ]
  • Notes:
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.



The leaves and milky sap were at one time often used in herbal medicine, though are seldom employed nowadays[4]. They are diuretic and are also applied externally to inflammations[4].
Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details                                         
Prefers a moist well-drained humus rich neutral to acid light sandy soil and some shade[1, 187, 200]. Plants are hardy to at least -20°c[187].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and do not let the compost dry out. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Division in spring[188]. We have found it best to pot up the clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer or following spring.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
(L.)Waller.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
17200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[17]Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles.
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[187]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Perennials Volumes 1 and 2.
Photographs of over 3,000 species and cultivars of ornamental plants together with brief cultivation notes, details of habitat etc.
[188]Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Readers comment                                         
 
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