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Lactuca indica


Lactuca indica L.

Family Name: Asteraceae (Compositae)
Synonyms: Lactuca brevirostris, Lactuca inermis
Common Name: Indian Lettuce, 山莴苣


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Lifespan (in Singapore) Semi-Annual / Annual-Like
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic


Native Distribution China, Taiwan and southern Japan
Preferred Climate Zone Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal, Temperate

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form A herbaceous erect herb that grows up to 2 m tall when flowering.
Foliage Leaves of L. indica are alternate, sessile (= without petioles) and arranged in a rosette on the young plant. Leaf shape oblong-lanceolate, but can be very variable.
Flowers Mature plants produce basal erect subterranean shoots, known as tillers. Flowers are bright yellow, small and numerous on terminal inflorescences that are 50-100 cm in length.
Fruits Fruits of L. indica are flat elliptical achenes (= small, dry indehiscent fruits, each with a single compartment containing a single seed), black, shortly beaked and hard, each with a tuft of white hairs at the top.
Others - Plant Morphology Native to China, Taiwan and southern Japan, where it both grows wild and is cultivated, Lactuca indica was probably introduced to Southeast Asia by Chinese immigrants. It is also relatively common in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Habitat Cultivated in the lowlands, up to an altitude of 2000 m, L. indica sometimes escapes from cultivation to grow in a variety of locations, such ravines, fields and roadsides.
Taxonomy Lactuca is derived from the Latin name “lactuca” or “lactucae”, in reference to the milky white sap produced by the plant when injured. The specific epithet, indica, is Indian in origin, used loosely for the Orient.
Cultivation Fertile, well-drained soils with high organic matter content are preferred, but L. indica is able to tolerate a wide range of soils. Propagation is carried out by seed, or root cuttings (these easily develop buds).
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : Food: L. indica is grown mainly for its leaves, which are eaten as a vegetable (raw, boiled or steamed) or used for wrapping and frying fish. ;Herb and Spice)
[Others]: L. indica is used as a feed for geese in Taiwan, while the leaves may be fed to silkworms as a substitute for mulberry. Leaves of L. indica are used as a tonic, digestive and depurative in traditional medicine

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses General, Flowerbed / Border

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Lots of Water, Moderate Water


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Lanceolate, Oblong)
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Herbaceous

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White, Yellow / Golden

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Fruit Type 1 Indehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Achene

Image Repository



Master ID 30536
Species ID 4845
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 23 February 2022.

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