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PlantFiles: Prickly Lettuce, China Lettuce, Wild Lettuce, Compass Plant, Horse Thistle, Milk Thistle
Lactuca serriola

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Lactuca (lak-TOO-kuh) (Info)
Species: serriola (ser-ee-OH-luh) (Info)

Synonym:Lactuca scariola

6 members have or want this plant for trade.


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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No positives
2 neutrals
3 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative sladeofsky On Feb 4, 2007, sladeofsky from Louisville, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

Pull this weed early and use garden gloves. I remember the painful surprize I got the first time I grabbed hold of this weed. It is very spiny. It looks very similar to Lactuca Canadensis which is a native and spineless.

Neutral frostweed On Aug 31, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Lactuca serriola is naturalized in Texas and other States.

Negative CastIronPlant22 On Dec 10, 2005, CastIronPlant22 from Lompoc, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

This is a weed here in CA and the roots are very very hard to get rid of! They always re-sprout! NEVER grow this, it is a WEED!

Negative melody On Jan 3, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Invasive and difficult to get rid of. The long taproots are almost impossible to dig up and the gazillions of seeds take wing and float into every corner of your garden.

Can live in the most adverse conditions and will remain here long after we are gone.

Livestock will not graze it, so it continues to pro-create with abandon.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 31, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant is considered to be invasive in some states.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Phoenix, Arizona
Aurora, Colorado
Waggoner, Illinois
Benton, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Dallas, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Salt Lake City, Utah
Spokane, Washington

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