Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Idioms, Wikipedia.


lettuce, annual garden plant (Lactuca sativa and varieties) of the family Asteraceae (aster family), probably native to the East Indies or Asia Minor, possibly as a derivative of the widespread weed called wild lettuce (L. scariola). L. sativa has been grown as a salad plant since antiquity and is unknown in the wild. Three types of lettuce are planted: head, or cabbage, lettuce; the leaf, or loose, type; and Cos lettuce, or romaine. The first forms a tight, crisp, white head; the second has many more leaves and a less compact head, which is white toward its center only. Cos lettuce, or romaine, forms long, upright leaves, which, according to variety, may or may not have to be tied up to blanch and form a head. It is not as commonly planted, but is useful where summers are too hot for the other two varieties. As lettuce has increased in popularity in the United States, forcing it for winter use is becoming an extensive industry, especially near large cities. Much of the winter crop comes from Florida and California. The plant is generally eaten as a salad but may be cooked, as it often is in France. A narcotic from the thickened juice of some Lactuca species has been used as an opium substitute. Among the many north temperate species is L. canadensis, the American wild lettuce. Lettuce is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Asterales, family Asteraceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Lactuca sativa), an annual vegetable of the family Compositae. The species is descended from L. serriola, which grows wild in Western and Southern Europe, Southwest Asia, and North Africa. In the USSR L. serriola is found in Siberia (as far as the Altai region), Middle Asia, and Transcaucasia. Lettuce is cultivated almost throughout the world. It is raised in all parts of the USSR.

Lettuce develops a rosette of radical leaves and, later, a strongly branched flower-bearing stem measuring 60–120 cm tall and having a large number of small inflorescences (heads). The flowers are yellow and bisexual, and the fruit is an achene with a pappus.

Lettuce is a cold-resistant plant; its shoots can withstand temperatures to - 5°C. The plant requires a lot of light and moisture. Soils with a neutral reaction and rich in organic matter are most suitable. The leaves, which are used fresh in salads, contain many vitamins (C, B, PP), carotene, and salts of iron and phosphorus. The yield is 300–500 quintals per hectare.

There are several types of lettuce. Leaf lettuce (var. secalina), which forms a rosette of leaves but not a head, has a vegetative period of 30 to 40 days. A garden form of leaf lettuce is Moscow Hothouse. Head lettuce (var. capitata) forms a round or flat-rounded head; its vegetative period is 55 to 95 days. Garden forms include Bettner, May, Yellow Stone Head, and Berlin Yellow. Cos lettuce (var. romana), which has a elongate-oval head, includes the forms Paris Green and Ballon. Its vegetative period is 70 to 100 days.

Lettuce is grown in open or sheltered ground. It is planted in the central part of the European USSR in the open ground with a vegetable seeder in late April or early May and shortly before the onset of winter. The most common variety is Grand Rapids. Care includes thinning, loosening the soil, weeding, and watering.

Leaf varieties are harvested all at once; heading varieties are harvested as each head forms. The earliest harvests are obtained by sowing coated seeds before winter and covering the plantings with a film in the spring. Cos lettuce is grown for autumn and winter consumption. It is sown in open hotbeds in late June or in the open ground. Moscow Hotbed and head varieties are raised in sheltered ground.

In the central part of the European USSR lettuce seeds are sown in early January in hothouse flats. In southern regions the seeds are sown similarly but in December. When the plants have two to four leaves, they are set out in a permanent place. The crop (1.5–5 kg per sq m) is harvested in late February or in March. For hotbed cultivation, the seeds are sown in January in greenhouses and set out in the hotbeds in March. The crop (2–3 kg per sq m) is harvested in early April.


Markov, V. M. Ovoshchevodstvo. Moscow, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about lettuce?

Lettuce is a slang word for money. Depending on the dreamer’s association with this symbol, the dream may indicate fruitfulness or financial matters.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


Lactuca sativa. An annual plant of the order Asterales cultivated for its succulent leaves; common varieties are head lettuce, leaf or curled lettuce, romaine lettuce, and iceberg lettuce.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. any of various plants of the genus Lactuca, esp L. sativa, which is cultivated in many varieties for its large edible leaves: family Asteraceae (composites)
2. the leaves of any of these varieties, which are eaten in salads
3. any of various plants that resemble true lettuce, such as lamb's lettuce and sea lettuce
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Romaine lettuce may not be classified as a superfood, but it does offer a number of nutrients that will benefit the body, according to (https://draxe.com/nutrition/vegetables/romaine-lettuce-nutrition/) Dr.
Put the lamb's lettuce into two bowls, then tip the vegetables on top with slices of avocado, squeeze some lime over and top each with a fried egg and a sprinkle of dried chilli flakes.
I grow lettuce from seeds not only because it is more successful but also because the selection of varieties is much bigger.
The lettuce and cauliflower products were harvested between Nov.
coli </em>O157:H7 illnesses linked to romaine lettuce.
Preliminary traceback information indicates that ill people in several areas across the country were exposed to romaine lettuce harvested in California.
Dubai: The food authority in Abu Dhabi has debunked a viral video spreading on WhatsApp and social networking sites over plastic lettuce sold in shops.
A simple way to extend your harvest is to sow several different lettuce cultivars on the same day, each day you plant.
The Swansea venue will be just the second Slug & Lettuce to open in Wales with the first opening in Cardiff's Friary Centre in April 2015.
California growers are adopting automated lettuce thinners to improve labor efficiency.
CREAM OF LETTUCE SOUP Separate 500g head lettuce, rinsed and core removed and put in pot with 2 tablespoons water.