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Lactuca capensis - Thunb.

Common Name
Family Asteraceae or Compositae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
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[13].
Habitats Lower mountain slopes, Lion's Head to Constantia[73].
Range S. Africa.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Lactuca capensis


Lactuca capensis

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Lactuca capensis is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in). The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses:

Young plant - cooked[177].

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.



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[K]. 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[4]. The sap contains 'lactucarium', which is used in medicine for its anodyne, antispasmodic, digestive, diuretic, hypnotic, narcotic and sedative properties[9, 21, 46, 165, 192, 213, 238]. Lactucarium has the effects of a feeble opium, but without its tendency to cause digestive upsets[4], nor is it addictive[7]. It is taken internally in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, neuroses, hyperactivity in children, dry coughs, whooping cough, rheumatic pain etc[238]. Concentrations of lactucarium are low in young plants and most concentrated when the plant comes into flower[238]. 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[4]. An infusion of the fresh or dried flowering plant can also be used[9]. 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[238] and overdoses can cause death through cardiac paralysis[7, 9]. Some physicians believe that any effects of this medicine are caused by the mind of the patient rather than by the medicine[213]. The sap has also been applied externally in the treatment of warts[222].

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Prefers a light sandy loam[1].

Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. Germination is usually quick, prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in early summer. Division in spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Lactuca biennisTall Blue Lettuce01
Lactuca canadensisCanada Lettuce23
Lactuca debilis 32
Lactuca formosana 12
Lactuca indicaIndian Lettuce32
Lactuca indica dracoglossa 22
Lactuca indica laciniata 32
Lactuca ludovicianaWestern Wild Lettuce, Biannual lettuce22
Lactuca perennisPerennial Lettuce32
Lactuca pulchellaBlue Lettuce22
Lactuca quercinaWild Lettuce23
Lactuca raddeana 22
Lactuca sativaLettuce, Garden lettuce33
Lactuca sativa angustanaCeltuce33
Lactuca sativa capitataCabbage Lettuce33
Lactuca sativa crispaCutting Lettuce33
Lactuca sativa longifoliaCos Lettuce33
Lactuca serriolaPrickly Lettuce23
Lactuca sibiricaPrickly lettuce22
Lactuca triangulata 12
Lactuca virosaWild Lettuce, Bitter lettuce13

 

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Expert comment

Author

Thunb.

Botanical References

73

Links / References

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Subject : Lactuca capensis  
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