Lactuca alpina, Lactuca scariola.
Lactuca alpina Benth. & Hook. f. Compositae. Mountain Sow-Thistle.
Europe. The stem, which is milky, is peeled and eaten raw by the Laplanders; the taste is extremely bitter.
Lactuca scariola Linn. Lettuce. Prickly Lettuce.
Europe and the Orient. Lettuce, the best of all salad plants, as a cultivated plant has great antiquity. It is evident, by an ancedote related by Herodotus, that lettuce appeared at the royal tables of the Persian kings about 550 B. C. Its medicinal properties as a food-plant were noted by Hippocrates, 430 B. C.; it was praised by Aristotle, 356 B. C.; the species was described by Theophrastus, 322 B. C., and Dioscorides,560 A. D.; and was mentioned by Galen, 164 A. D., who gives the idea of very general use. Among the Romans, lettuce was very popular. Columella, A. D. 42, describes the Caecilian, Cappadocian, Cyprian and Tartesan. Pliny, A. D. 79, enumerates the Alba, Caecilian, Cappadocian, Crispa, Graeca, Laconicon, Nigra, Purpurea and Rubens. Palladius, 210 A. D., implies varieties and mentions the process of blanching. Martial, A. D. 101, gives to the lettuces of Cappadocia the term viles, or cheap, implying abundance. In China, its presence can be identified in the fifth century. In England, Chaucer, about 1340, uses the word in his prologue, "well loved he garlic, onions and lettuce," and lettuce is likewise mentioned by Turner, 1538, who spells the word lettuse. It is mentioned by Peter Martyr, 1494, as cultivated on Isabela Island. In 1565, Benzoni speaks of lettuce as abounding in Hayti. In 1647, Nieuhoff saw it cultivated in Brazil. In 1806, McMahon enumerates for American gardens sorts. In 1828, Thorburn's seed catalog offered 13 kinds, and in 1881, 23 kinds.
In the report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station for 1885, 87 varieties are described with 585 names of synonyms. Vilmorin describes, 1883, one hundred and thirteen kinds as distinct. The numbers of varieties named by various writers at various times are as follows: For France, in 1612, six; in 1690, twenty-one; in 1828, forty; in 1883, one hundred and thirteen. For Holland, in 1720, forty-seven. For England, in 1597, six; in 1629, nine; in 1726, nine; in 1763, fifteen; in 1765, eighteen; in 1807, fourteen. For America, in 1806, sixteen; in 1885, eighty-seven.
The cabbage and cos lettuces are the sorts now principally grown but various other kinds, such as the curled, are frequently, and the sharp-leaved and oak-leaved are occasionally grown as novelities. In these lettuces there can be offered only the synonymy of a few of the varieties now known — those which indicate the antiquity of our cultivated types.
I. The Lanceolate-Leaved Type.
Lactuca longifolia. Bauh. Phytopinat 200. 1596.
Lattuga franzese. Dur. C. 244. 1617. cum ic.
Lactuca folio oblongo acuto. Bauh. Pin. 125. 1623. Prod. 60. 1671.
Lactuca longo at valde angusto folio. Bauh. J. 2:999. 1651; Chabr. 313. 1677.
Deer Tongue. Greg. 1883.
II. The Cos Type.
Pena and Lobel, 1570, say that this form is but rarely grown in France and Germany, although common in the gardens of Italy; and Heuze says it was brought from Rome to France by Rabelais in 1537.
Lactuca intybacea. Lombard Lettuce Ger. 240. 1597.
Lactuca foliis endivae. Matth. Op. 399. 1598.
Lactuca Romana longa dulcis. Bauh. J. 2:998. 1651. Chabr. 313. 1677.
La Romaine Jard. Solit. 1612
Romaines. Vilm. 307. 1883.
We can reasonably believe the lettuce of Camerarius to be very close to the Florence Cos. The Lombard lettuce was grown as a sport in the garden of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station in 1886, and the figures by Bauhin and Chabraeus may well be the Paris Cos. It is not to be understood, however, that these figures represent the improved forms of our present culture but the prototypes from which our plants have appeared, as shown not only by resemblance of leaf-form but through the study of variables in the garden. Ray, 1686, describes the Cos as having light green and dark green varieties. and these, as well as the Spotted Cos, are indicated by Bauhin in 1623.
III. Headed Lettuce.
A.— This is the sort commonly grown, and the figures given in the sixteenth century indicate that the heading habit was even then firmly established. We have the following synonyms to offer, premising that types are referred to:
Luctuca crispa. Matth. 264. 1554; Pin. 195. 1561.
Lattuga. Cast. Dur. 243. 1617.
La royale? Le Jard. Solit. 1612. Quintyne 1690.
Laitue Blonde de Berlin syn. Laitue royale. 295. 1884. Berlin
B.—Lactuca saliva sessilis sive capitata. Lob. Icon. 1:242. 1591.
Lactuca capitata. Dod. 645. 1616.
Very Early Dwarf Green.
C.—Lactuca. Cam. Epit. 298. 1586.
Lactuca capitata. Ger. 240. 1597.
Lactuca crispa. Matth. 399. 1598.
Batavians. Vilm. 1883.
D.—Lattich. Roezl. 167. 1550.
The last identification is from the appearance of the young plant. The old plant is remarkably different, forming a true rosette.
IV. Cutting And Miscellaneous.
A.—Lactuca crispa altera Ger. 240. 1597.
Lactuca crispa et tenuiter dissecta. Bauh. J. 2:1000. 1651. Chabr. 314. 1677.
B.—Lactuca foliis querci. Ray 219. 1686.
C.—Capitatum cum pluribus capitibus. Bauh. J. 2:998. 1651. Chabr. 313. 1677.
The minor variations which are now separated into varieties did not receive the same recognition in former times, the same variety name covering what now would be several varieties; thus, Quintyne, 1693, calls perpignans both a green and a pale form. Green, light green, dark green, red and spotted lettuces are named in the old botanies, hence we cannot assert any new types have appeared in modern culture.
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World, 1919, was edited by U. P. Hedrick.