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Lactuca sativa L.

Family Name: Asteraceae (Compositae)
Common Name: Lettuce, 生菜, 叶用莴苣, 玻璃菜
Full Sun: 6-8h Lots of Water Fruit & Vegetable Annual Herbaceous


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) Annual
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 30 cm to 70 cm


Native Distribution Asia Minor or Middle East
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Temperate
Local Conservation Status Exotic (Horticultural / Cultivated Only)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Annual or biennial herb up to 70 cm tall.
Roots The root system is relatively small.
Foliage Foliage varies widely according to cultivar type. In Singapore, headed cultivars may form loose heads or even no head at all, because temperatures are higher than optimal for lettuce.
Stems The stem is often short in the head-forming cultivars, but grows up to 30-50 cm long among the stem lettuce cultivars.
Flowers Compound flower known as a head is composed of 7-15 yellow florets. The heads are arranged in a branched inflorescence (known as a panicle) and has a flat top.
Fruits Dry, indehiscent fruit is known as an achene. They are narrowly obovate (egg-shaped with the wider end at the tip), beaked, and attached to a pappus composed of 2 rows of soft, white hairs.
Cultivation Lettuce is best grown in a temperate climate. In Singapore, it should be grown on consistently moist, but well-drained soils. It does not tolerate acidic soils (pH < 6). It takes about 2 months from sowing to first harvest.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : The leaves are eaten raw in salads and sandwiches. The Chinese and Taiwanese eat the fleshy stem of stem lettuce cultivars cooked.)

Landscaping Features

Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Landscape Uses Small Gardens, Container Planting
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Lots of Water
Propagation Method Seed
Seed or Spore Germination Duration To 4
Seed or Spore Germination Duration Unit Days


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green, Green - Light Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Thin
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Green - Light Green
Young Flush Texture(s) Smooth, Thin
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Spiral, Rosulate / Rosette
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage
Foliar Venation Recticulate
Foliar Margin Entire - Wavy / Undulate, Crenate
Foliar Apex - Tip Rounded
Foliar Base Cuneate

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Herbaceous
Root Type Underground (Tap Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Individual Flower Shape Ligulate / Strap-shaped
Inflorescence Type Panicle, Head / Capitulum

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Indehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Achene


References Siemonsma, J.S. and Piluek, K. (Editors). 1994. Plant Resources of South-East Asia (PROSEA) No 8. Vegetables. Bogor, Indonesia: Prosea Foundation.

Image Repository



Master ID 31560
Species ID 5959
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: 30 March 2021.