I have this plant that is in my garden, and the bottom half of the plant looks different than the top half. I live in North Carolina, United States. This plant is almost finished flowering, but the flower hasn't fully opened. I'll add an update when the flower fully opens. I want to know if it is an edible plant, like a lettuce, or if it is a weed, and I should pull it.

Here is a picture of the full plant:

unknown plant - full

Here is another full picture of the plant:

Full plant - unknown

Here is the bottom of the plant:

unknown plant - bottom half, leaves are squiggly

Here is the top part of the plant:

top part of plant - straight leaves

Here is the top of flower:

Top of yellow flower

2 Answers 2


Note that this site has suggested that I use citations to improve my original answer. My primary citation is personal experience, i.e., about 20 years spent teaching foraging, plant identification, bee-keeping and environmentalism to school groups, scout groups, Nature Conservancy audiences, at local nature centers and parks, et al. My most popular presentations were called ‘Incredible Edibles’ and 'Nature’s Supermarket’. I also wrote plant identification articles for a local nature center’s quarterly newsletter. I still recall much of what I taught and remain an avid gardener and amateur naturalist.

I’m self-taught -- an autodidact (there are still a few of us around). But if one is curious to see the literature on this particular genus simply search for ‘Lactuca’ in Wikipedia and scroll down to the citations. There are also a ton of books on foraging and plant identification, from Euell Gibbons' many guides to US Army pamphlets, and identification cards. You can also find a list of the 10 best foraging books for beginners at: https://www.rusticfarmlife.com/top-10-best-foraging-books-for-beginners/ and a general search on ‘wild lettuce’ will give you more info than you ever wanted to know on the genus Lactuca and its culinary and medicinal applications.


Yep, it looks like a type of wild lettuce. If you snap off the top does it leak a milky sap? There are many species of wild lettuce/ Here’s a site that discusses some of them. https://thehomesteadinghippy.com/wild-lettuce-lookalikes/

  • Would you possibly know what type of wild lettuce it would be?
    – Green
    Commented Jul 8, 2023 at 23:50
  • And, I snapped the top, and there was a milky sap, just like you told!
    – Green
    Commented Jul 8, 2023 at 23:53
  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 10:17
  • Leaf variation is pretty wide in the lettuces but odds are that it’s Lactuca Vvrosa (aka opium lettuce, or bitter lettuce) based on that species' ubiquity. Historically, its sap and seed have been used medicinally. This site Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 13:45

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