Wild Lettuce, Woodland Lettuce, Florida Blue Lettuce, False Lettuce
Synonyms of Lactuca floridana (17) (Updated on 3-11-21): Cicerbita acuminata (Willd.) Wallr., Cicerbita floridana (L.) Wallr., Cicerbita villosa Beauverd, Lactuca acuminata (Willd.) Spreng., Lactuca floridana f. leucantha Fernald, Lactuca floridana var. villosa (Jacq.) Cronquist, Lactuca villosa Jacq., Mulgedium acuminatum (Willd.) DC., Mulgedium floridanum DC., Mulgedium lyratum Cass., Mulgedium villosum Small, Prenanthes sonchoides DC., Sonchus acuminatus Willd., Sonchus floridanus L., Sonchus lapponicus Froel., Wiestia acuminata (Willd.) Sch.Bip., Wiestia floridana Sch.Bip.
Lactuca floridana (L.) Gaertn. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of Lactuca. It was named and described as such by Joseph Gaertner in De Fructibus et Seminibus Plantarum in 1791. It was first named and described as Sonchus floridanus by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
The genus, Lactuca L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
Plants of the World Online lists 115 species in the Lactuca genus (as of 3-11-21 when I last updated this page). It is a member of the plant family Asteraceae Family with 1,679 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made and likely will.
Lactuca species are found pretty much worldwide but Lactuca floridana is a native of North America. The map on the USDA Plants Database is very similar to the one above provided by Plants of the World Online. It also includes the state of Minnesota.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.
I found several plants of Lactuca floridana growing in a shady area north of the pond. There are several Lactuca species growing here on the farm but this one is a little different… Its flowers are a very light blue, nearly white while the others are a yellowish color.
Plants are topped with panicles of 50-100 flower heads. Flower heads, which I need to get photos of, contain 10-20 ray florets (petals) without disc florets. I am not sure why the petals are called florets with some species of plants… The corollas of this species can be lavender, purplish blue, or blue of various shades.
The achenes (seeds) are similar to other species in the genus, but this species and Lactuca biennis are the only two with fruit hairs (pappus) in double rings.
Lactuca floridana can grow to a height of at least 8-9 feet tall in favorable conditions. They prefer moist, organic soil in light to part shade but they will grow in sandy soil in various habitats. Their stems are glabrous (hairless) and are hollow between the leaf nodes. Its stems and leaves secrete pure white sap.
The leaves are highly variable on the same plant and from one plant to another. Basal and lower leaves can grow from about 3” to over 2’ in length. The leaves usually have winged petioles and can be narrow-ovate, ovate, or obovate. Leaves can be toothed or deeply pinnately lobed sometimes with small hairs along the margins.
The leaves in the middle and upper part of the stems may have triangular basal lobes that clasp the stems. These leaves can be lanceolate to ovate or obovate, and mostly pinnately lobed. The undersides of the leaves may have hairs running along the midvein.
The above photo shows the underside of a leaf with small hairs along the midvein. You can see the leaves have a lot of teeth along the margins as well.
Even the above photo is sort of blurry, you can see flower stems emerging from the leaf axils. This is not mentioned in the descriptions on other websites. I need to try to get better photos…
This photo shows a plant with a purplish stem. The stem becomes green toward the top of the plant.
Here is another photo of the flowering stems emerging from the leaf axils…
The Lactuca floridana is a species worth further observation. I was fairly busy in 2020 and I didn’t take any more photos of this small colony. I will be keeping an eye on them in 2021…
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. I have grown over 500 different plants and most have pages listed on the right side of the blog. I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
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