An annual or biennial herb, sensitive to grazing, occurring as a native on coastal cliffs, inland rock outcrops and perhaps sand dunes, but much more widespread as a plant of rank calcareous grassland, woodland margins, road-banks, quarries, tracks and rough ground. Lowland.
L. virosa was first recorded in Britain in 1570 but it was often recorded in error for L. serriola forma integrifolia before 1930, so it may have been rarer then than records suggest. Road development has greatly assisted its spread since 1980. Recorders have not distinguished the alien sites and all records are therefore mapped as if they are native.
Suboceanic Southern-temperate element.
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
1984. The comparative ecology of two sand dune biennials: Lactuca virosa L. & Cynoglossum officinale L. New Phytologist. 96:609-629.
1992. Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 3. 2 vols.
2000. Historical records of Lactuca serriola L. and L. virosa L. in Britain, with special reference to Cambridgeshire (v.c. 29). Watsonia. 23:149-159.
1953. A changing flora as shown in the study of weeds of arable land and waste places. The changing flora of Britain. :130-139.