Wild lettuce

Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. Updated February 2018.

Scientific name: Lactuca canadensis L.

Common name(s): Canada lettuce, wild lettuce, tall lettuce

Link(s): USDA PLANTS Profile, NPIN Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)


– annual or biennial

– leaf appearance is variable

  • simple
  • alternate

-flower head consists of ray flowers

– can be confused with tall blue lettuce (L. biennis), especially when not in bloom; see left sidebar of Go Botany webpage. Can also hybridize with L. biennis; see Flora Novae Angliae information at bottom of Go Botany webpage.


-disturbed sites

-forest edges

-meadows and fields

Natural History:

-nutritious leaves

-edible when young raw or boiled

Native Americans used this to treat pain, calm, and stimulant the body

-the milky sap was used as a topically to skin irritations and lesions



Haines, A., Farnsworth, E., Morrison, G., & New England Wild Flower Society. (2011). New England Wildflower Society’s Flora Novae Angliae: A manual for the identification of native and naturalized higher vascular plants of New England. Framingham, MA: New England Wild Flower Society. p. 415.

Go Botany. “Lactuca Canadensis L.” Lactuca Canadensis (Tall Lettuce): Go Botany, 2021, gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/species/lactuca/canadensis/.