An annual or biennial herb long cultivated as a salad plant, and frequently escaping onto waste ground or persisting on abandoned arable land; also a bird-seed alien occurring casually on tips. Lowland.
L. sativa has been cultivated in Britain since at least 1200 (Harvey, 1981), although it was not recorded in the wild until 1975 (Middlesex). There are many cultivated varieties, including var. capitata (cabbage lettuce) and var. crispa (cos lettuce). It is probably under-recorded.
L. sativa was derived in cultivation from wild relatives, the closest of which is L. serriola. The first evidence for its cultivation comes from Ancient Egypt.
PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.