by Stephen Mifsud
   8 Dec 2023      ()
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Lactuca serriola   (Prickly Lettuce)

Lactuca serriola  (ASTERACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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General Information Species Images
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Detailed species profile
Asteraceae Index Plant Family Index
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Profile Date July-2004 (taxon update: July-2004)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Lactuca serriola - datasheet created on July-2004. Retrieved from on 08-Dec-2023

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Lactuca serriolaL.
Published in Cent. Pl. 2: 29 (1756)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Lactuca scariola L.
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Asteraceae Bercht. & J.Presl (=Compositae) (The Daisy or Sunflower Family)
123 species from the Asteraceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Prickly Lettuce, China Lettuce, Compass Plant

Maltese name(s) :

Ħass salvaġġ tal-pizzi

Status for Malta :

Indigenous. Present on the Maltese islands before man

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent    Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: THEROPHYTE ( annual plants, herbaceous )
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

May – August

Colour of Flowers:



Not particularly toxic

Name Derivation :

Lactuca: Latin for milk, referring to the milky sap present in all parts of all plant forming this genus. (Latin origin )
serriola: old name referring to plants known as endive and chicory. (Latin origin )

Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Roadsides, waste places and sand-dunes
Preferred habitat in Malta: Harvested or fallow fields, footpaths and lanes in close to agricultural areas, wasteland with dumped soil and sometimes in streets and curbs at urban areas.
Botanical Description: Annual or biennial. Stem up to 180 cm, rigidly erect, glabrous or setose, branched. Leaves rigid, spinulose on the midrib beneath; basal narrowly obovate-oblong, usually deeply pinnatifid (rarely undivided); cauline less deeply lobed, held vertically. Inflorescence a long, pyramidal or spike-like panicle. Involucre patent or deflexed in fruit. Capitula with 7-15(-35) florets. Ligules pale yellow. Achenes 6-8 mm; body elliptical, setose at apex, 5- to 9-ribbed, greyish; beak as long as body.
Chromosome number: 2n=18
Distributional range: Much of Europe, but only as an alien in the north

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
All Europe except Faroe Islands, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and former USSR, Svalbard archipelago, occurs in some of these as a casual
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
? Ab(A N) AE(G) Ag Al Ar Au(A) Be(B L) BH Bl(I M N) Br Bu By dCa(C F G L P T) Cg Co Cr Cs Ct Cy Da Eg Ga(C F M) Ge Gg Gr He Ho Hs(G S) Hu Ir It Jo Le Lu Ma dMd(M P) Mk Mo Rf(C CS E K N NW S) Rm Sa Si(M S) Sk Sl Sn Sr Sy Tn Tu(A E) Uk(K U) [Au(L) Az(F G L) nCa(H) nEs nFe nHb(E) aHb(N) aIs aLa cLi nLt No nPo Su]

Links & Further literature (1 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Revision of the Lactuca species (Asteraceae) occurring in the Maltese Islands Mifsud, S. & Mifsud, O.  (2020)
Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (37 images)
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-0.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-1.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-2.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-3.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-4.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-5.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-6.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-7.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-8.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-9.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-10.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-11.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-12.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-13.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-14.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-15.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-16.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-17.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-18.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-19.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-20.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-21.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-22.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-23.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-24.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-25.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-26.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-27.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-28.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-29.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-30.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-31.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-32.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-33.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-34.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-35.
   Lactuca serriola   -   Image Code: LCTSR-36.

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Section A:  Additional Information about this plant species
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Section B:   Where have you seen this plant on the Maltese Islands?
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Try to be as concise as possible. Examples: Dingli Cliffs (near chapel), Wied Incita (Zebbug side), Triq il-Kbira (Qormi), Barriera ta' Ghajn Abdul (Xlendi), Fields East of Salib tal-gholja (Siggiewi). GPS co-ordinates are also welcomed!
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