Asteraceae / Aster
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Medical Uses: Wild Lettuce has been used for various medical purposes in the new world and the old alike. Long considered to be a sedative, the milky juice or latex from lettuce becomes firm and brown when exposed to air, looking and smelling like opium and called lactucarium this substance has acquired a reputation as an opium substitute. There is no scientific research to support any medical use.
Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca serriola L.) which is found throughout most of the U. S. and is common in the southeast,
was introduced from Europe and is very similar but has spines on the leaves.
Grassleaf Lettuce (Lactuca graminifolia) has blue or violet flowers and leaves that are mostly basal and usually not toothed. It is less common and is not found north of New Jersey or west of Arizona.
Tall Blue Lettuce (Lactuca biennis) has bluish or white flowers and is found in the north half of the U. S. As far south as Tennessee and North Carolina.
One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.
This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.
Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves