Lactuca serriola

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaAsteraceaeLactucaLactuca serriola


An annual or biennial herb of roadsides, waste ground, gravel-pits and sea walls, often rapidly colonising newly turned soil. Also occasionally in semi-natural habitats, such as shingle banks and sand dunes. Lowland.



World Distribution

As an archaeophyte L. serriola has a Eurosiberian Southern-temperate distribution; it is widely naturalised outside this range.

© P. Shannon

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 8

Moisture (Ellenberg): 5

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 6


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.7

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16.1

Annual Precipitation (mm): 741

Life form information

Height (cm): 200

Perennation - primary


Perennation - secondary

Biennial, including monocarpic perennials

Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Distribution information

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 985

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 3

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 4

Atlas Change Index: 2.7

Weighted Changed Factor: 65

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


Distribution information

JNCC Designations


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.

Atlas text references

Atlas (296c)
Bowra (1992a)
Carter RN, Prince SD
1985.  The geographical distribution of Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca serriola). I. A general survey of its habitats and performance in Britain. Journal of Ecology. 73:27-38.
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Meusel H, Jäger EJ
1992.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 3. 2 vols.
Reynolds S
1999.  Lactuca serriola L. in Dublin (H21). Irish Naturalists' Journal. 26:285-286.