Lactuca virosa is the tall, wild cousin of the common lettuce with bright yellow flowers, serrated leaves, and a stem that emits a white latex when broken. Wild lettuce is a biennial and member of the Asteraceae family, cultivated in Europe and naturalized throughout North America. Wild lettuce herb has been used for centuries in traditional folk herbalism and is known for its bitter and nervine qualities. Wild lettuce leaf and stem are typically tinctured or steeped as wild lettuce tea.
Wild lettuce is not a vegetable but actually a woodland member of the sunflower family. The common name "lettuce opium", as it was known in the earlier official pharmacopoeias, refers to the potent milky latex produced by the stems and leaves.
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