Lactuca serriola L.

Selected images: Click on each image to see a larger version and details of the record View all images (4)

Lactuca serriola

Photo: Bart Wursten
Churchill Avenue, nr Gun Hill

Lactuca serriola

Photo: Bart Wursten
Churchill Avenue, nr Gun Hill

Lactuca serriola

Photo: Bart Wursten
Churchill Avenue, nr Gun Hill

Lactuca serriola

Photo: Bart Wursten
Churchill Avenue, nr Gun Hill

Detailed records: Display species records QDS maps by: Google Maps Point records by Google Maps

Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Common names: Prickly lettuce (English)
Frequency: Common in urban centres, e.g. Harare, but not generally seen elsewhere
Status: Introduced
Erect annual or biennial herb, to 2.5 m with a leafy stem. Leaves sessile, runcinate-pinnate (in ours - f. serriola) or unlobed (f. integrifolia), the lamina often held in a vertical plane. Inflorescence a panicle; flowers small (involucre 6-8 mm long), yellow. Achene 3 mm, with a long beak equalling or exceeding the achene in length.
Notes: Two distinct forms of this species are known. Only f. serriola has been recorded for Zimbabwe. The name Compass plant refers to the leaves which are held vertically and tend to be oriented in a north-south direction, hence facing east-west. Papers by Werk and Ehleringer (1984 and 1986) discuss this feature and its implications for the levels of solar radiation, water loss and the species’ reproduction.
Derivation of specific name: serriola: in ranks, probably referring to the leaves which are held in two vertical ranks.
Habitat: Frequent in disturbed places, often on road verges.
Altitude range: (metres)
Flowering time:Jul - Oct
Worldwide distribution: Native of Europe extending to Siberia and NW China and N Africa.
Zimbabwe distribution: W,C,S
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Images last updated: Saturday 8 September 2007

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 26.

Pope, G.V. (1992). Compositae Flora Zambesiaca 6(1) Pages 204 - 207. (Includes a picture).

Prince, S.D. & Carter, R.N. (1977). Prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola L.) in Britain. Watsonia 11 Pages 331 - 338. (Includes a picture).

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 35.

Werk, K.S. & Ehleringer, J. (1984). Non‐random leaf orientation in Lactuca serriola L. Plant, Cell & Environment 7(2) Pages 81 - 87.

Werk, K.S. & Ehleringer, J. (1986). Effect of non‐random leaf orientation on reproduction in Lactuca serriola L. Evolution 40(6) Pages 1334 - 1337.

Other sources of information about Lactuca serriola:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Lactuca serriola

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Lactuca serriola
African Plant Database: Lactuca serriola
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Lactuca serriola
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Lactuca serriola
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Lactuca serriola
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Lactuca serriola
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Lactuca serriola
JSTOR Plant Science: Lactuca serriola
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Lactuca serriola
Plants of the World Online: Lactuca serriola
Tropicos: Lactuca serriola
Wikipedia: Lactuca serriola

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-24

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2024). Flora of Zimbabwe: Species information: Lactuca serriola., retrieved 4 March 2024

Site software last modified: 26 March 2018 2:01pm (GMT +2)
Terms of use