seeds of Lactuca serriola, Milk thistle, Prickly lettuce

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Lactuca serriola Samen
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Lactuca serriola also called, Milk thistle or Prickly lettuce, is a plant species that is notable for being the closest relation to cultivated lettuce. Lactuca serriola also goes by the name Lactuca latifola, Lactuca altaica and Lactuca augustana. The plant is indigenous to Northern Africa, Asia, and Europe but has spread over time to other parts of the world. Lactuca serriola can grow to a height for between 30 and 200 cm. The plant’s stem has a reddish colouration and a milky latex. The leaves reduce in size the higher up the plant you go. Each leaf is lanceolate or oblong-shaped and has a whitish colouration on its underside. Small spines are present along the leaves on the veins, as well as, on the apex. The plant’s flower-heads are yellow with slight purple colouration. Each flower-head has a width of 11 to 13 mm and accommodates 12 to 20 ray flowers. The bracts have the purple colouration as well. Puncturing the leaves will lead to the milky latex oozing out of the leaf. Lactuca serriola makes an occasional appearance in salads. The leaves of the plant are edible and are added to salads by those who appreciate its bitter taste. The leaves can also be eaten raw or cooked. It is advisable to obtain the leaves from plants when they are young given the plant gets more bitter the older it gets. Should one want an alternative to the leaves, then shoots would do just fine. The seeds are also a good source of oil which must be refined first before it’s ready for human consumption. Lactuca serriola also has some medicinal attributes though many of them are antiquated. The plant, however, has been manipulated for centuries for its soporific abilities. Studies of the plant’s history suggest that it found use in rituals.
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