prairie lettuce

(Lactuca ludoviciana)

Conservation Status

 

No image available

  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N4N5 - Apparently Secure to Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland

     
  Midwest

FACU - Facultative upland

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

UPL - Obligate upland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Prairie lettuce is an erect biennial or, possibly, a short-lived perennial, with a thick, deep taproot. The stems and leaves contain a brownish, milky latex.

The stems are usually unbranched except in the inflorescence. They are leafy and hairless, often with prickles near the bottom.

The leaves are alternate, stemless, bluish, and usually lobed. They are 8 to 12 long and 2 to 4 wide, becoming smaller as they ascend the stems. They are hairless but have weak (easily bent) prickles on the leaf margin. They are attached at the base without a leaf stalk (sessile). Sometimes, the basal lobes partly surround the stem (clasping). The midvein on the underside also has prickles.

The inflorescence is a long, spreading, cone-shaped, loosely-branched cluster.

The flower heads are from ¾ to 1 across and have 20 to 56 ray florets. The rays are pale yellow or, occasionally, light blue, bluish-white with yellow tips, or pale lilac. They have truncated tips with 5 small teeth. There are no disk florets. The flowers are open for only a brief time in the morning.

The fruit is a brown to blackish achene with fluffy, white bristles attached to the tip.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

1 to 5

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

Pale yellow or, occasionally, light blue, bluish-white with yellow tips, or pale lilac.

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
 

Canada lettuce (Lactuca canadensis) has yellow flowers. The flower heads are about across and have 13 to 22 ray florets.

Prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola) has yellow flowers. Some of the leaves are often more or less perpendicular to the ground. They have prickles on the margins and stiff sharp prickels on the underside of the midvein.

Showy blue lettuce (Lactuca tatarica ssp. pulchella) has blue flowers. The leaves are unlobed or with narrow lobes.

Tall blue lettuce (Lactuca biennis) has bluish to white flowers. The flower heads are about across. The achene has grayish-brown bristles attached to the tip.

Woodland lettuce (Lactuca floridana var. floridana) has leaves on leaf stalks. The flower heads are about across and have 11 to 17 ray florets.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Moist. Prairies, meadows, wood openings, streambanks, open places. Full or partial sun.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

July to September

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28.

 
  10/24/2019      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

 

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  
 

Order

Asterales (sunflowers, bellflowers, fanflowers, and allies)  
 

Family

Asteraceae (sunflowers, daisies, asters, and allies)  
  Subfamily Cichorioideae (chicories, dandelions, and allies)  
  Tribe Cichorieae  
  Subtribe Lactucinae  
  Genus Lactuca (lettuce)  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

 

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Lactuca campestris

Lactuca campestris var. typica

Sonchus ludovicianus

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

biannual lettuce

Louisiana lettuce

prairie lettuce

prairie wild lettuce

western wild lettuce

wild lettuce

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Achene

A dry, one-chambered, single-seeded fruit, formed from a single carpel, with the seed attached to the membranous outer layer (wall) only by the seed stalk; the wall, formed entirely from the wall of the superior ovary, does not split open at maturity, but relies on decay or predation to release the contents.

 

Clasping

Describing a leaf that wholly or partly surrounds the stem but does not fuse at the base.

 

Sessile

Stalkless; attached at the base without a petiole, peduncle, pedicel, or stalk.

       
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Plant

  prairie lettuce   prairie lettuce
       

Inflorescence

  prairie lettuce    
       

Fruiting Heads

  prairie lettuce   prairie lettuce
       

Lower Stem Leaves

  prairie lettuce   prairie lettuce
       
  prairie lettuce   prairie lettuce
       

Clasping Leaf Base

  prairie lettuce   prairie lettuce
       

Stem

  prairie lettuce    
       
       

 

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