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Uses

Toxic parts

Although no specific mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, many plants in this genus contain a narcotic principle, this is at its most concentrated when the plant begins to flower. This principle has been almost bred out of the cultivated forms of lettuce but is produced when the plant starts to go to seed[1].

Edible uses

Notes

Leaves - raw or cooked[2][3]. Added to salads or soups[4]. The leaves contain about 1.5% protein, 0.4% fat, 2.2% carbohydrate, 0.7% ash[5]. Stem - cooked[5]. It contains 0.6% protein, 0.1% fat, 2.1% carbohydrate, 0.5% ash[5].

Leaves

Material uses

There are no material uses listed for Lactuca indica.

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The plant is digestive and tonic[2].

Although we have seen no specific reports for this species, most if not all members of the genus have a milky sap that contains the substance 'lactucarium' and can probably be used as the report below details[K].

The whole plant is rich in a milky sap that flows freely from any wounds. This hardens and dries when in contact with the air[6]. The sap contains 'lactucarium', which is used in medicine for its anodyne, antispasmodic, digestive, diuretic, hypnotic, narcotic and sedative properties[7][8][9][10][11][12][13]. Lactucarium has the effects of a feeble opium, but without its tendency to cause digestive upsets[6], nor is it addictive[14]. It is taken internally in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, neuroses, hyperactivity in children, dry coughs, whooping cough, rheumatic pain etc[13]. Concentrations of lactucarium are low in young plants and most concentrated when the plant comes into flower[13]. It is collected commercially by cutting the heads of the plants and scraping the juice into china vessels several times a day until the plant is exhausted[6]. An infusion of the fresh or dried flowering plant can also be used[7]. The plant should be used with caution, and never without the supervision of a skilled practitioner. Even normal doses can cause drowsiness whilst excess causes restlessness[13] and overdoses can cause death through cardiac paralysis[14][7]. Some physicians believe that any effects of this medicine are caused by the mind of the patient rather than by the medicine[12].

The sap has also been applied externally in the treatment of warts[15].

Unknown part

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Seed - sow early spring in a warm greenhouse, only just covering the seed. Germination is usually rapid, prick out the seedlings when large enough to handle and plant them out after the last expected frosts[16].

Division in spring. Make sure each piece of root has a leaf bud[16].

Root cuttings in late winter[16].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Lactuca indica. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.



Cultivation

Prefers a light sandy loam.

We do not know how hardy this plant will be in Britain, though it can be grown here as an annual. It takes about 60 days from seed sowing until the first leaves are harvested[16].

This species is sometimes cultivated for its edible leaves in Asia[4][16]. It originated in China but is now cultivated in many parts of S.E. Asia[16].

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Lactuca indica. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Lactuca indica.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Lactuca indica
Genus
Lactuca
Family
Compositae
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
?
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Life
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    ?
    Herbaceous or Woody
    ?
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    ?
    Mature Size
    Fertility
    ?
    Pollinators
    Flower Colour
    ?
    Flower Type

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    References

    1. ? Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-33545-3 (1975-00-00)
    2. ? 2.02.12.22.3 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
    4. ? 4.04.14.2 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.15.25.3 Reid. B. E. Famine Foods of the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre (1977-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.16.26.3 Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.17.27.3 Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.1 Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
    11. ? 11.011.1 Emboden. W. Narcotic Plants Studio Vista ISBN 0-289-70864-8 (1979-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.112.2 Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.113.213.313.4 Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.114.2 Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
    15. ? 15.015.1 Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
    16. ? 16.016.116.216.316.416.5 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    17. ? Ohwi. G. Flora of Japan. (English translation) Smithsonian Institution (1965-00-00)

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