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(Lactuca virosa has similar but more concentrated medicinal properties.) This infusion can then be consumed up to three times daily.When we were clearing out one of the garden beds, I harvested enough to fill up the dehydrator.The caterpillars of a few species of moths eat the foliage, including (Intermediate Cucullia).The foliage is bitter-tasting and not a preferred food source for mammalian herbivores, although cattle and White-Tailed Deer occasionally eat it.”Weeds – Control Without Poisons notes that chickens and pigs both relish wild lettuce as a green.They are simple lobed leaves, getting smaller as they move up the plant.Wild prickly lettuce has a distinctive line of spines or prickles on the underside of the leaves, running up the midvein.
The oil is also used in soap making, paints, and varnishes.
Wild lettuce also has a taproot like a dandelion, whereas sowthistle has a system of runners – more like quackgrass.
Illinois Wildflowers states: “The nectar and pollen of the flowerheads attract various kinds of bees.
The bitter flavor comes through in milk, so it's best to eliminate it from dairy pasture if possible.
These plants are the ancestors of garden lettuce, and the young leaves are bitter but edible. As the plants mature, the bitterness becomes more pronounced and they get downright unpleasant to eat. (This is similar to dandelion leaves.) The texture of the leaves is similar to spinach or a hardy lettuce (with prickles), so excess cooking will make the leaves very mushy.