Prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola) is a common weed found in the United States. Its common name is prickly lettuce and grows wild in fields, along roadsides, and on lawns. It is very similar to its cousin the dandelion plant and is sometimes confused with it. This plant is the closest thing to cultivated lettuce that grows in the wild. Prickly lettuce has a strong odor when disturbed, and the scent can stick to the skin. It can be a serious problem for those who love a lawn free of all weeds. Once this plant is spotted, it can often spread fast if not controlled.
Prickly Lettuce Characteristics
This plant has a spineless stem, and it is not uncommon for it to be red. The leaves are dark green, and the veins are pale white. Prickly lettuce has jagged leaves that are easy to spot. When the leaves have been damaged, they ooze latex. The flowers of the plant are yellow but often turn purple as time goes by. Prickly lettuce is a medium to tall growing plant that reaches up to 80 inches in height if certain conditions are right. Since it is a tall growing plant, it means that prickly lettuce often shades out other plants and even some grasses. In the past, some have used this plant for both medical and culinary purposes. The leaves, when young, can be eaten cooked and eaten raw.
Properly Controlling Prickly Lettuce
Over the counter weed killer can be used as a method of weed control. But if this plant is widespread, a professional lawn service may be needed. Proper lawn maintenance such as mowing the lawn is recommended to help keep prickly lettuce away once it has been brought under control. Many golf course owners are troubled with this weed, and preventative lawn care practices are put into place to keep it at bay.