Lactuca intybacea

Lactuca intybacea Jacq.  

Common Names: Chicory, Wild Lettuce

Family: Asteraceae

Habit: Lactuca intybacea is an herbaceous annual growing to 1 meter in height. The leaves are arranged alternately, to 20 cm in length, irregularly lobed/incised, with an acute leaf apex and toothed leaf margin. The leaf base clasps the node. The vegetative portions of the plant produce milky latex when broken.

The complete, perfect, zygomorphic flowers are arranged in groups of heads. The heads contain numerous flowers and are subtended an involucre made of a multiple series of phyllaries. The outer series of phyllaries are shorter than the inner series. The calyx is modified as hairs forming a pappus.  The corolla has 5, fused, yellow petals.  There are 5 stamens fused to the base of the corolla.  The ovary is inferior with a single locule.  The fruit is an achene at maturity that retains the modified calyx (pappus).

Habitat: Lactuca intybacea grows in Human Altered environments (roadsides, fields, dump sites).

Distribution: Lactuca intybacea occurs on all islands in the Lucayan Archipelago as well as throughout all tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Lactuca intybacea leaves are edible although bitter.  The bitterness is reduced when the leaves are cooked.  It is also eaten by farm animals.