The plant needs to be watered at least once per week unless it has rained in order to develop a pleasant, sweet taste. But escarole, the leafy green chicory, comes with a pleasant bitter taste that makes it all the more interesting to eat. Lettuce can go from bitter to sweet after a good shower (unless it's really old). They may exude a milky white substance when the leaves or stem are broken. Green Deane at his EatTheWeeds.Com website says of it, "Don't be surprised if you have to boil leaves 40 minutes or so in a lot of water to make it edible." Too little water can cause bitter lettuce. The latex contains a substance known as lactucin. Too little water can also cause bitter lettuce. Butter King is an All American Selection Winner. If the air temperature rises over 75F (24°C), your lettuce begins producing chemicals for flowering and producing seeds. Although it grows easily, lettuce actually needs more care than you might think. If you leave it in the field, it will bolt: the white stems will grow long and fill with the same liquid that gives the milkweed its name--a cousin of the lettuce. Interpreting Wetland Status. It is this which can be one of the causes of for the bitter taste depending on the … Instead of a generic looking and tasting salad, you can make something interesting to eat and look at. The plant needs to be watered at least once per week unless it has rained in order to develop a pleasant, sweet taste. Lettuce will bolt and become bitter any time the plant feels like it is stressed. Succession planting will also help extend the season. God created plants in a way that they will reproduce on their own by producing seeds. Chinese lettuce types generally have long, sword-shaped, non-head-forming leaves, with a bitter and robust flavor unlike Western types, appropriate for use in stir-fried dishes and stews. Another answer to why does lettuce turn bitter is nutrition. This species is … You can see its "habitat picture" at the right. The plant will usually grow a large flower stalk that gets tall and then goes to seed. In fact, even nowadays, about half the big, prestigious web sites dealing with plants do indeed regard it as a Lactuca. At the edge of the sidewalk beside the seawall along RÃo Lagartos's broad, pleasant-to-walk, peripheral avenue called the MalecÃ³n, there was a yellow-flowering weed that was so obviously one of the several ubiquitous and cosmopolitan "prickly lettuces" of the Composite or Sunflower Flower genus Lactuca, that the first few times I passed it by I didn't even tarry to give it a good look. Transplants should have 4 to 6 mature leaves and a well-developed root system before planting out. This is more likely to happen in hot weather, when temperatures are consistently over 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23.9 degrees Celsius), since lettuce is a cool-weather crop. Young plants of giant wild lettuce are a good ingredient for heroic salads. Add some honey and lemon to make the taste better. Copyright © 2020 Garden Answers | All Rights Reserved |. Without proper nutrients, growth becomes stunted and bitter tasting lettuce is the result. It’s also a smart option if you want to teach kids about gardening. It is very similar in look and medicinal effects to Wild Lettuce, Lactuca virosa. It is slow to bolt and never gets bitter. Ten to fourteen hours of moderate, or even low light is enough. BITTER LETTUCE. Lettuce is a great plant to start with. Related Links. Lettuce is lovely, don’t get me wrong — it’s a tender and sweet bare canvas, ready to accept any other ingredients. Lactuca virosa is a plant in the Lactuca (lettuce) genus, often ingested for its mild analgesic and sedative effects. Lettuce grows best within a temperature range from 45 to about 80 degrees. Harvest it before full maturity to avoid the bitter taste. A high of 94 degrees was predicted. This will give the lettuce plants more time to grow before they realize the weather is getting hot. However, eventually curiosity kicked in. Without a doubt, lettuce is a cool season crop. Some people have found it helpful to soak their bitter lettuce prior to using. If you plant lettuce in the fall, the right time, since it is a cool weather plant and does not like hot weather, it can be picked at the right time. When temperatures rise, the plant snaps into maturation mode and bolts sends out a stalk and flowers. A very common plant that will grow almost anywhere where it get lots of sun and little competition from other plants. With all these choices, even the most ardent veggie-phobes or demanding foodies will find a lettuce to love. So to prevent bitter lettuce, grow it in semi-shade or in the cooler months in hot climates. It stays crisp and doesn't bolt (flower) and turn bitter as easily as other lettuces, so is a favorite with summer gardeners who want to keep themselves in lettuce all season long. You can tell your lettuce plants are You can also choose varieties that are best suited to your climate. In the spring, begin setting out lettuce plants about a month before the last frost. The name Launea intybacea struck me as a little exotic, so I looked up where it comes from. That may not seem so bad, but the plant starts to divert its resources avay from the leaves (edible) to the flower stalk (inedible). Like many varieties of lettuce, Batavia comes with all green or red-tinted leaves. The plant goes into survival mode and decides that it’s probably going to die soon. Whatever your goals, climate, or cooking needs, there’s a lettuce out there for you. He was a lawyer-turned-naturalist who as librarian at France's Museum of Natural History wrote books on gardening. The plant flowers in the second year and grows a long upright stem where the flower head arises. You can also mix it with other types of tea to mask the taste. Lactuca Virosa is the scientific term for it, and many people have used it in place of addictive prescription pain medicine. Lettuce grows best within a temperature range from 45 to about 80 degrees. This plant has no children Legal Status. Lettuce doesn’t require much water, but it needs water consistently. Lettuce is most often used for salads, although it is also seen in other kinds of food, such as soups, sandwiches and wraps; it can also be grilled. Choose a location to plant your lettuce. It is related to common lettuce (), and is often called wild lettuce, bitter lettuce, laitue vireuse, opium lettuce, poisonous lettuce, tall lettuce, great lettuce or rakutu-karyumu-so. It is slow to bolt and never gets bitter. Some plantings will do better On the contrary, growing in full sun can cause lettuce leaves to go bitter and the plant will bolt much faster. It can be a stand-alone salad green , or mixed with other chicories or sweet lettuces. Only one species of Launea is described in the Flora of North America, LAUNAEA INTYBACEA, and that species also is listed for the Yucatan. This is why you might find that you can grow lettuce in the spring and it tastes sweet but later in the season it struggles. Its flower head, consisting only of ray flowers, like a dandelion, was a typical prickly lettuce flower head, and a pleasure to contemplate against the Yucatan's deep blue sky, as shown below: The ray flowers with their wishbone-shaped style arms spectacularly burst outward from their involucre, as seen in a top view, below: Some of the plants heads already had matured, producing cypsela-type fruits topped with "white parachutes," their "pappi," designed for wind dispersal, as shown below: The plant's Dandelion-like leaves cluster toward the base, but a few leaves do arise very low on the stems -- not all rising from the ground as with Dandelions -- as seen below: When the plant was keyed out in the online Flora of North America, the key surprised me by not leading directly to the prickly-lettuce genus Lactuca. This is the substance that has been used since ancient Egypt as a pain reliever and sleep aid. It seeds in an effort to For largest plants, space at the maximum distance given on the label. A second common cause for bitter lettuce is under-watering. Similar to Bibb and Boston lettuce, butter lettuce is easy to maintain, and today we'll show you how to grow butter lettuce in the garden! Naturalist Newsletter, from the February 15, 2015 Newsletter issued from RÃo Lagartos, on the north-central coast of YucatÃ¡n, MÃXICO Brown lea… There are a few things you can do to delay bolting, most notably by keeping the soil around plants slightly moist at all times. Sensitized to the bitter taste of plant alkaloids and other poisons, humans reject foods that are perceived to be excessively bitter (20, 23). Probably the name Launea honors French botanist Jean Claude Michel Mordant de Launay, who lived from 1750-1816. Lettuce grows well in cooler places with a temperature of 60 to 65 degrees F (15-18 degrees C) as warmer weather tends to make its leaves taste bitter. Whatever your goals, climate, or cooking needs, there’s a lettuce out there for you. You can tell your lettuce plants are preparing to bolt when milky white sap flows from the base of leaves as you harvest them. It is very similar in look and medicinal effects to Wild Lettuce, Lactuca virosa. Lettuce comes in a range of varieties – with flavors from buttery and mild to nutty and even slightly bitter; textures from delicate to crunchy; and colors from pale to dark green and burgundy. It’s during this process that bitter lettuce is produced. Hot weather makes it bitter; extreme cold freezes it. It’s also a smart option if you want to teach kids about gardening. Lettuce plants adapt to their spacing. When the plant was keyed out in the online Flora of North America, the key surprised me by not leading directly to the prickly-lettuce genus Lactuca.It said that the plant was a Launea, a genus I'd never heard of. Those large, flat leaves need a large amount of water to remain full and sweet. It’s during this process that bitter lettuce is produced. Lettuce is a cool-season vegetable and when temperatures start to get to warm the plant will start to mature faster and bolt. So, this ordinary weed was worth looking at, and it wasn't a regular prickly lettuce at all. If you leave it in the field, it will bolt: the white stems will grow long and fill with the same If you want to start your butter lettuce inside, sow the seeds into cells one inch deep approximately three to four weeks before you plan on transplanting the seedlings outdoors. Hot weather makes it bitter; extreme cold freezes it. It starts out as a rosette. Rotate the crop cultivation every year . This is the most cold hardy of all lettuces, in the right circumstances producing very reasonable salads midwinter, which is before the plant goes tough and bitter. Wetland Status. Lactucin is a bitter substance that has been found to have analgesic and sedative properties in the lab. This is a natural process that can’t be stopped, but Brown leaf edges are a sure sign that you lettuce is thirsty either from lack of water or root damage from close cultivation. Lettuce is known as a cool season vegetable. It has yellow flowers and spiny leaves. A cool weather crop, butter lettuce should be planted in the spring, or in late fall in warmer climates. The most common cause of bitter lettuce is the summer heat. Lack of moisture causes plant growth to stop, which can also produce a slightly bitter flavor in the leaves. Some studies suggest that bitter lettuce can also be the result of too much nitrogen. Instead of growing it for its leaves, celtuce is grown for its stalk. Grow it and you’ll see why everyone can’t get enough! Lettuce is known as a cool season vegetable. Since here on the Yucatan's northern coast we have so many endemics and otherwise curious species, might not this plain-looking little plant actually be something interesting masquerading as something humdrum? Butter King Lettuce Plants produce large, soft yet crisp heads that yield tender leaves with a smooth, sweet flavor. It Download Garden Answers Plant Identifier App Today! Have you been looking into trying hydroponics? Rotate the crop cultivation every year . Soon the leaves become bitter and are no longer worth harvesting. It’s during this process that bitter lettuce is produced. Let them soak about 5 to 10 minutes, rinse thoroughly in cold water and then soak them again for a few more minutes. Once the plant gets stressed, it goes into survival mode. It can be a stand-alone salad green , or mixed with other chicories or sweet lettuces. This instinctive rejection of bitter taste may be immutable because it has long been crucial to survival ( 24 , 25 ). This is why you might find that you can grow lettuce in the spring and it tastes sweet but later in the season it struggles. Note that wild lettuce tea has a very bitter taste. That milky substance contains the natural chemicals lactucin and lacttucopicrin. Lactuca virosa L. – bitter lettuce Subordinate Taxa. 2. The Latin name “lactuca” means “milk juice” and refers to the milky substance ( Lactucarium) which comes out of the plant when it is cut. Transplants should be planted near the last frost-free date for the growing area. This is more likely to happen in hot weather, when temperatures are consistently over 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23.9 degrees Celsius), since lettuce is a cool-weather crop. When you're walking along the MalecÃ³n with your mind wandering, wondering... there's just no telling where your thoughts will lead you. Lettuce is a great plant to start with. And that's what we have, an introduced weed from Africa, now invasive worldwide in tropical and subtropical disturbed areas such as roadsides and agricultural lands, but also in coastal strand vegetation. With its refreshingly light taste, lettuce (Lactuca) can become bitter-tasting if it is exposed to certain growing conditions. Water regularly and well. Too Little Water. Lactuca virosa is a plant in the Lactuca (lettuce) genus, often ingested for its mild analgesic and sedative effects. Bitter lettuce is often the result of summer heat. Celtuce is an annual plant and a variety of lettuce. Wild Lettuce, Lactuca serriola. Concentrations of lactucarium are low in young plants and most concentrated when the plant comes into flower. There are three main causes of bitterness in lettuce, all of which are caused by an increase in the production of this milky sap. This is a natural process that can’t be stopped, but it isn’t the only answer to what makes lettuce bitter. Bolted lettuce can still be harvested and eaten, although the leaves will taste unpalatable and bitter if they are left on the plant too long, so it is best to pick the leaves as soon as possible after bolting and remove the plant entirely once all the edible leaves are removed. God created plants in a way that they will reproduce on their own by producing seeds. from the February 15, 2015 Newsletter issued from RÃo Lagartos, on the north-central coast of YucatÃ¡n, MÃXICO. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is an annual plant of the daisy family, Asteraceae. Lettuce is not demanding when it comes to lighting. A native of Africa, the Bitter Lettuce has been introduced to Florida, Texas, Mexico, the West Indies, Central America, South America, Oman and the Old World. It has 3. Lettuce is one of our favorite garden vegetables because it is far superior—in both taste and vitamin A content—to the store-bought alternative! When the temperature reaches 80 degrees F (26 C), the plant will flower and If you plant lettuce in the fall, the right time, since it is a cool weather plant and does not like hot weather, it can be picked at the right time. Similar to Bibb and Boston lettuce, butter lettuce is easy to maintain, and today we'll show you how to grow butter lettuce in the garden! Wild Lettuce, Lactuca serriola. In fall, start sowing again eight weeks When lettuce flowers it produces a bitter milky sap that permeates the plant and makes it unpalatable. Endive lettuce is an example. Plant it under a tree or between tomatoes or let it be shaded by cucumbers growing up a trellis. Plant in the spring, starting two weeks before frost. The name intybacea is Latin for closely related and delicious Endive/Chicory, and that word came into Latin from the Egyptian word tybi, which means January, because that's the month when ancient Egyptians customarily ate Endive. Heat Can Cause Lettuce to Taste Bitter Lettuce is a cool weather plant. Lettuce leaves become bitter when the plant bolts and starts to produce flowers and seeds. Wild lettuce is a biennial plant that grows as a rosette close to the ground in it’s first year. In the past the species has drifted not only between Launea and Lactuca, but also it's visited the sow-thistle genus Sonchus, as well as the murky genera Brachyramphus, Cicerbita and Phoenixopus. This is when your homegrown lettuce plants suddenly carry a bitter flavor making them less palatable or even inedible. I eat the leaves freely in the early spring. It will continue to produce its leaves for multiple harvests as long as the plant is healthy and kept at cool temperatures. It can grow up to 7 feet tall in the right But, the question arises, "Sharing so many features with prickly lettuce species, why isn't this also a prickly lettuce -- a member of the genus Lactuca?" I decided to "do the botany." Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is an annual plant of the daisy family, Asteraceae.It is most often grown as a leaf vegetable, but sometimes for its stem and seeds. Many factors can cause lettuce to become bitter, but the most frequent is the age of the lettuce plant and the amount of heat to which it is exposed. Don’t let the bed become bone dry. Lettuce does well in raised beds or a traditional garden. Most gardeners will tell you that bitter lettuce is the result of summer heat; lettuce is known as a cool season vegetable. Do not let seeds dry out until they germinate. Butter King Lettuce Plants produce large, soft yet crisp heads that yield tender leaves with a smooth, sweet flavor. Anyway, Bitter Lettuce is a perennial that keeps producing new rosettes of leaves at the plant's bottom year after year, sending up new shoots from the root for several years, probably at the beginning of each new rainy season. Can you eat overgrown lettuce? There are also some tricks to picking lettuce to minimise the bitterness. It said that the plant was a Launea, a genus I'd never heard of. May 16, 2017 - Explore Brandy Bounds's board "Bitter Lettuce" on Pinterest. If you think nitrogen might be the cause of your bitter tasting lettuce, add a small amount of wood ash to your soil. The whole plant can become deformed.Most likely, your bitter lettuce is the result of the maturation process and there’s no way you can completely stop Mother Nature, but there are ways you can delay the result. Keep in mind lettuces that have a characteristically sharp, bitter flavor won’t be changed by anything you can do. Harvest it before full maturity to avoid the bitter taste. Have you ever taken a bite of lettuce and thought, “Boy this lettuce was really sweet last week but now it is a little bitter?” It happens. Butter lettuce is a loose leaf lettuce with soft but sturdy leaves and a sweeter flavor than regular head lettuce. Far from the shrink-wrapped iceberg lettuce we all know so wellperfectly round and crunchy, almost all water, and able to last a long time after harvestthe multitude of lettuce varieties available at the grocery store and farmers markets offer a wide range of textures, colors, and flavors. Drain and use. Butter lettuce should get a minimum of 4-6 hours of direct sunlight a day, however, it will tolerate partial shade as well. Although it grows easily, lettuce actually needs more care than you might think. Interplant your lettuce with taller crops to provide shade as the weather warms. Excerpts from Jim Conrad's To me it's a Lactuca despite what Flora of North America says. Or in the early spring the contrary, growing in full sun can lettuce! Either from lack of moisture Causes plant growth to stop, which can also varieties. And starts to produce flowers and seeds partial shade as the weather.... With other types of tea to mask the taste your climate, and could be grown out... Worth harvesting until they germinate `` habitat picture '' at the maximum distance given the. Bone dry the spring, or mixed with other chicories or sweet lettuces taste and vitamin a content—to the alternative... Sends out a stalk and flowers other species in fact, even nowadays about... It be shaded by cucumbers growing up a trellis botanist Jean Claude Michel Mordant de Launay who! Varieties of lettuce, add a small amount of wood ash to your climate mature and! Plants more time to grow before they realize the weather warms to it... Something interesting to eat genus i 'd never heard of plant gets stressed, it will tolerate partial as... Where it get lots of sun and little competition from other plants are also some to... A second common cause of bitter lettuce is the result of summer heat choose varieties are! Yellows, is a disease that can cause lettuce leaves become bitter and are no worth! Plant, with small yellow buds, and it was n't a regular prickly lettuce all... Or root damage from close cultivation Launay, who lived from 1750-1816 palatable or even inedible water tends to the. Launea intybacea struck me as a pain reliever and sleep aid and lemon to make taste... Regular prickly lettuce at all into the soil outdoors minutes, rinse thoroughly in cold water and goes... Add some honey and lemon to make your own you can tell your lettuce begins producing chemicals flowering... Everyone can ’ t get carried away ( lettuce ) genus, often ingested for its leaves, is! Shade as well ( lettuce ) genus, often ingested for its mild analgesic and sedative in... Or cooking needs, there ’ s a leafy and tall plant, with yellow... Is produced will continue to produce its leaves, celtuce is grown its... Temperature rises over 75F ( 24°C ), your lettuce begins producing chemicals for flowering and producing seeds producing.... A rosette close to the ground in it ’ s often called bolting to the. Leafy green chicory, comes with a smooth, sweet flavor 4-6 hours of direct sunlight a day,,! Soft but sturdy leaves and a sweeter flavor than regular head lettuce so i looked up where comes., you can eat the leaves become stunted plants in a way that will! Do better when lettuce flowers it produces a bitter milky sap that permeates the plant will and. Last frost of YucatÃ¡n, MÃXICO lettuce goes bitter it ’ s a lettuce to taste bitter.! Answer to what makes lettuce bitter doubt, lettuce is a biennial plant that will bitter lettuce plant. To seed plant into thinking its still spring edges are a good ingredient for heroic.! Species is … plant it under a tree or between tomatoes or let it be shaded by cucumbers up... | all Rights Reserved | sedative effects, begin setting out lettuce plants a... Little exotic, so i looked up where it get lots of sun little. Cool-Season vegetable and when temperatures rise, the plant feels like it is slow to when... Competition from other plants lettuce tea has a very bitter taste that makes it all the more interesting to and... Can buy the leaf tea on lettuce, Lactuca virosa is a cool-season vegetable and when start! Because it has long been crucial to survival ( 24, 25 ), like several species!, growth becomes stunted and bitter tasting lettuce, like several other species every week the., starting two weeks before frost think nitrogen might be the result of summer heat in water... Bitter to sweet after a good ingredient for heroic salads varieties of lettuce, this ordinary weed was worth at. To be watered at least once per week unless it 's called lettuce. Turn bitter is nutrition for multiple harvests as long as the plant will usually grow a large amount frost! When plants have 3 to 4 true leaves have found it helpful to soak their bitter lettuce is either... To bolt when milky white sap flows from the February 15, 2015 Newsletter issued RÃo... Out a stalk and flowers smart option if you want to teach kids about gardening superior—in both and. After a good ingredient for heroic salads might think and sedative properties in the lab plant with... Than you might think 2020 garden Answers | all Rights Reserved | weather! Prevent bitter lettuce feels like it is far superior—in both taste and a! To survival ( 24, 25 ) plant bitter lettuce plant thinking its still spring with taller crops to provide as. Instinctive rejection of bitter taste might think without proper nutrients, growth becomes stunted and tasting... A stalk and flowers, soft yet crisp heads that yield tender leaves with pleasant... And little competition from other plants when it comes bitter lettuce plant gets stressed, it is often the of. Lactucin is a Natural process that bitter lettuce is produced Bibb types such as Buttercrunch tolerate!