Canada lettuce

(Lactuca canadensis)

Conservation Status
Canada lettuce
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Canada lettuce is a 1 to 8 tall, erect. biennial forb with a thick, deep taproot. The stems and leaves contain a milky latex.

The stems are leafy, smooth, light green, and may have purple streaks.

The leaves are alternate, light gray-green to dark green, often with purple edges or a yellowish cast. They are up to 10 long and 3 wide. They are stemless, with the basal lobes partly surrounding the stem (clasping). They do not have prickles on the leaf margin. The midvein on the underside may have short, fine hairs, but not prickles.

The inflorescence is a tall, narrow, cone-shaped, loosely-branched cluster.

The flower heads are about across and have 13 to 22 ray florets.

The fruit is a brown achene with fluffy, white bristles attached to the tip.




1 to 8


Flower Color


Pale yellow


Similar Species


Prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola) has blue-green leaves with prickles on the leaf margins and on the underside of the midvein. The pale yellow rays in the flower heads have truncated tips with 5 small teeth.

The blue species of Lactuca (below) are extremely variable and identifying characteristics overlap, factors which, taken together, make the species difficult to separate.

Showy blue lettuce (Lactuca tatarica ssp. pulchella) has large, showy flower heads that measure, ¾ across.

Tall blue lettuce (Lactuca biennis) has bluish to white flowers. The achene has grayish-brown bristles attached to the tip.

Woodland lettuce (Lactuca floridana var. floridana) has light blue flowers.


Moderate moisture. Fields, meadows, thickets, woods, waste places.




July to September




Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Asterales (sunflowers, bellflowers, fanflowers, and allies)  


Asteraceae (sunflowers, daisies, asters, and allies)  
  Subfamily Cichorioideae (chicories, dandelions, and allies)  
  Tribe Cichorieae  
  Subtribe Lactucinae  
  Genus Lactuca (lettuce)  

Subordinate Taxa






Lactuca canadensis var. integrifolia

Lactuca canadensis var. latifolia

Lactuca canadensis var. longifolia

Lactuca canadensis var. obovata

Lactuca canadensis var. typica

Lactuca sagittifolia

Lactuca steelei


Common Names


Canada lettuce

Canada wild lettuce

Canadian wild lettuce

Florida blue lettuce

tall lettuce

tall wild lettuce

wild lettuce












A dry, one-chambered, single-seeded fruit, formed from a single carpel, with the seed attached to the membranous outer layer (wall) only by the seed stalk; the wall, formed entirely from the wall of the superior ovary, does not split open at maturity, but relies on decay or predation to release the contents.



Describing a leaf that wholly or partly surrounds the stem but does not fuse at the base.

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Alfredo Colon
  Canada lettuce    Photos






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  Wild Lettuce / Lactuca canadensis

Published on Nov 28, 2013

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