Prickly Lettuce

Biological Name:

Lactuca serriola (Prickly-Lettuce)

Natural Habitat:

Prickly-Lettuce: This plant is native to Europe and grows in a variety of habitats, including fields, meadows, and along roadsides.


Prickly-Lettuce is a perennial weed native to Europe and Asia. It is a member of the sunflower family and is easily identified by its large spiny leaves and yellow flowers. The plant has a thick erect stem that can grow up to 4 feet tall and produces a white milky sap when broken.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can you eat a prickly lettuce?
A: Edible Parts Young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. The young tender leaves are mild and make an excellent salad, but the whole plant becomes bitter as it gets older, especially when it flowers. Young shoots can be cooked and used as an asparagus substitute. It is highly adviseable to eat only smalll quantities.

Q: Is prickly lettuce the same as wild lettuce?
A: Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa) is a weed. It’s sometimes called prickly lettuce, bitter lettuce, tall lettuce, or opium lettuce, and there are many claims of health benefits.

Q: Can you eat lettuce that had a slug on it?
A: If you are pretty sure the holes in your leafy vegetables were caused by insects or slugs, they should be safe to eat, as long as you wash them thoroughly, and remove any damaged portions. However, if mammals have been through your garden, you should avoid damaged greens.

Q: What is another name for prickly lettuce?
A: Prickly Lettuce, Lactuca Serriola L., a native to the Mediterranean region is. The plant is sometimes called wild lettuce, China lettuce or compass plant because the leaves on the main stem are held vertically in a north-south plane, perpendicular to direct sunlight.

Q: What does prickly lettuce taste like?
A: Lactuca serriola can be eaten as a salad, although it has something of a bitter taste. Young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Older leaves can be steamed. While unsubstantial, its roots have been used as a coffee substitute.

Q: Is Prickly wild lettuce narcotic?
A: **Please note that the sap of wild lettuce contains lactucarium, which is a mild narcotic.

Q: Where can I find prickly leaf lettuce?
A: Habitat. Annual grasslands, seasonal wetlands, ditchbanks, fields, agronomic and vegetable croplands, orchards, vineyards, landscaped areas, urban places, roadsides, and is a prolific colonizer of disturbed habitats.

Q: Is prickly lettuce toxic to dogs?
A: And the wild prickly lettuce that I mentioned is very strong. If you don’t prepare and dose it correctly, you can actually poison your dog.

Q: What is prickly wild lettuce used for?
A: Wild lettuce is used for whooping cough, asthma, urinary tract problems, cough, trouble sleeping (insomnia), restlessness, excitability in children, painful menstrual periods, excessive sex drive in women (nymphomania), muscular or joint pains, poor circulation, swollen genitals in men (priapism), and as an opium …

Q: Should I pull prickly lettuce?
A: Pull wild lettuce when the soil is damp and dig down to get all of the tap roots. Just as with dandelions, mowing over wild lettuce is not a long term control; the plant will just produce new stems and flowers.

Q: Will lettuce regrow after it bolts?
A: Q: Will bolted lettuce regrow? A: Bolted lettuce, when cut down to its base will regrow under the right conditions. If summer is too hot, the entire plant may die, but in cooler temperatures, it may resprout and continue to produce.

Q: Is prickly lettuce invasive?
A: Invasive Species: Lactuca serriola, Prickly Lettuce. Prickly lettuce is an invasive annual or biennial that can reach heights of 6 ft. (1.8m). Cauline leaves (on the stem) are alternate, 2 to 14 in.

Q: Can prickly lettuce be used for pain relief?
A: Prickly Lettuce is pain relieving in general and especially when mental anxiety is involved. It relieves tension, especially in the musculoskeletal system, and is calming to the nervous system.

About the author

Samuel is a gardening professional and enthusiast who has spent over 20 years advising homeowners and farm owners on weed identification, prevention and removal. He has an undergraduate degree in plant and soil science from Michigan State University.