Author Topic: Wild Lettuce Crosses?  (Read 267 times)

Ferdzy

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Wild Lettuce Crosses?
« on: 2021-04-17, 05:09:29 PM »
Wild lettuce has been a relatively common weed in our back yard since we started up gardening here. There are at least 2 species that I am aware of. Which ones they are, exactly, I don't know. Looks like there are at least 4 relatively common wild lettuces around here, by which I mean latuca spp.

This spring I've been seeing a few plants that look like this pop up around the garden. So, questions: is this straight up wild lettuce of some kind? I suspect it is actually a cross between one of my domestic lettuces and wild lettuce, but who knows? (Somebody here, I hope). It tastes like bitter, bolting lettuce even though it is just getting started. On the other hand, it is way ahead of any domestic lettuce in the garden.

So, is this interesting? Or just another damn weed?

reed

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Re: Wild Lettuce Crosses?
« Reply #1 on: 2021-04-17, 06:24:55 PM »
Looks like and your description sounds like its a weed to me but I have strong dislike of bitter tasting lettuce. We have lots of similar looking plants, all that I've tried taste pretty nasty.

William S.

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Re: Wild Lettuce Crosses?
« Reply #2 on: 2021-04-17, 08:57:53 PM »
In my garden I get crosses with Lactuca serriola which are observable readily because they have red marks from the domestic.

This individual in your photo could be a hybrid or it could be 100% Lactuca serriola. 
« Last Edit: 2021-04-17, 09:57:04 PM by William S. »
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian parent material and shallow 7" silty clay loam mollisoil topsoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A with 100 to 130 frost free days

Joseph Lofthouse

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Re: Wild Lettuce Crosses?
« Reply #3 on: 2021-04-17, 11:38:10 PM »
The first photo shows what I think was an F1 hybrid between my wild lettuce and Romaine.

The second photo shows a pure wild plant (left), and domestic Simpson's black seeded (right), and what I think is an F1 hybrid in the middle.

The third photo is about an F3 or F4.

I select for winter hardiness, quick/early growth, and against spines and bitterness.

« Last Edit: 2021-04-17, 11:41:37 PM by Joseph Lofthouse »

Ferdzy

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Re: Wild Lettuce Crosses?
« Reply #4 on: 2021-04-18, 05:46:10 AM »
Thanks, all!

William, I do think it is a cross. Looking at pictures of lactuca seriola, I'd say it is one of the two wild lettuces we have in the garden. However, it has always been quite serrated even when young. This plant looks different from what I have seen before. Smoother, thinner, and with more oval leaves. Quite tender. Just tastes nasty. But not really nastier than some of the bitter greens people (other than me and Reed) eat.

Joseph, it sounds like it has been worthwhile for you to continue to grow your wild lettuce crosses out. You are saying F3 or F4; are they selfed, or have they back-crossed with domestic lettuce, do you know?

The winter hardiness and quick and early growth are precisely what struck me. Nothing else is as far along, including lettuce that germinated last fall and overwintered.

William S.

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Re: Wild Lettuce Crosses?
« Reply #5 on: 2021-04-18, 07:38:57 AM »
The F1 of Joseph's and Ferdzy's putative F1 both fit within my mental model of the range of variation I see within Lactuca serriola. For instance I saw a plant like that in a city 15 miles away a few days ago. It's early yet. Then over the next couple months I would expect that seedling to harden, get stronger spines and look like the wild species photo. Early wild seedlings and also shade grown plants will have that domestic look. Also in my garden some of the domestic strains when they do bolt will look more like the wild than at any other time. Lactuca serriola is already an ancestor of some common cultivars. The more domestic look corresponds somewhat to juveniles and domestication to a certain extent is the plant staying in juvenile growth stages longer. However when you have two plants under the same conditions and ages generally these characters are pretty solid for hybridization. There is also probably some gene flow back into the wild. I've also noted that in Southern California wild lettuce plants Lactuca serriola still are much less common and have more trichomes or hairs than here in Western Montana. I've never been to Ontario but it is far east from here. I would not be surprised to find differences there given what I found in California. In my garden I currently have a domestic lettuce plant volunteer in a seed scattered section about four inches across. It's got the red markings on the leaves and some other distinctly domestic characters. My lettuce patches tend to be volunteer patches a lot of the time. Which means germination can be erratic and plants not even aged. I got one hybrid looking plant last year and I've no idea if it was a descendent of prior hybrids or a new hybridization event. It seems like a interesting exercise in lettuce breeding to track some generations of segregation as Joseph has done- given the years of local adaptation populations of Lactuca serriola have undergone. I just haven't followed up in a precise way in my garden. The cultivars with red markings transfer that character to the hybrids in my garden which makes them easier to spot for me. I tend to weed my volunteer beds with full knowledge of species. Suspect I weed out green Lactuca serriola hybrid lettuce and green orach seedlings to some extent. The latter because of its resemblance to chenopodium album opposed to the more common red seedlings.

http://ontariowildflowers.com/main/group.php?id=95

Lactuca biennis and Lactuca Canadensis are both found in Ontario according to this page. Probably less likely to hybridize with domestic though I haven't researched it extensively.

« Last Edit: 2021-04-18, 08:06:40 AM by William S. »
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Garrett Schantz

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Re: Wild Lettuce Crosses?
« Reply #6 on: 2021-04-18, 08:27:04 AM »
Lactuca virosa and L. serriola both grow wild in my area. The two can apparently hybridize as well.

So figuring out an exact parent could be difficult.

Recently I have been saving seed from the wild lettuces and planting them near domestic lettuce - closer plants increases the chance of hybridization.

Maybe the F2 will help you figure out if it's a hybrid.

Some species contain different sap colors, that might help a bit.

Joseph Lofthouse

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Re: Wild Lettuce Crosses?
« Reply #7 on: 2021-04-18, 09:42:01 AM »
I estimate that lettuce, at my place is about 99.5% selfing. In damper climates, with higher insect populations, it might cross up to 6%.

I used to taste the lettuce to screen for bitterness. The bitter is poison, so I poisoned myself the first time I tasted about 300 lettuce plants. These days, I look at the sap color. I don't taste plants with thick milky sap. I can tell just by looking that they are nasty. And I spit these days after each taste. I don't have to taste plants with spines. I just cull them.

Garrett Schantz

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Re: Wild Lettuce Crosses?
« Reply #8 on: 2021-04-18, 10:14:58 PM »
Lactuca virosa resembles some of the L. sativa x serriola hybrids it seems like.
L. virosa has spines on the leaves like serriola does, it also has very smooth leaves. They can also get a sort of redness on the outer portion of the leaves.

First image I am posting is of a L. virosa plant that I found outside earlier. Didn't taste much bitterness, which is nice. Also not as many spines as usual... Suppose I will save seed.

Dunno what the next two images are. Pretty sure that they are a North American lettuce. They have a bad - bitter lettuce taste. They also have some small spines. Leaves aren't smooth like serriola / virosa - bit of a fuzz there.

There were very large/ tall plants in a wooded area by the house last year with similar leaves to these. I might inspect them more closely this year. I don't remember the leaves being exactly like this, even on the young plants though. Then again the plants that I took images of were all next to each other - so it could possibly be a hybrid. Though I doubt it. I would rather not have plants of that size appear in this particular area anyway.


https://extension.umass.edu/landscape/weeds/lactuca-biennis
There are some other images online of L. biennis that look different than the one showed on this website - last year's woodland plant looked like this.

Last image is just a leaf comparison.