Category: Garden Vegetable Plants
Facts about Lettuce Plant. "Scientific name for Lettuce Plant is Lactuca sativa". From salads to food for rabbits, the humble lettuce is a marvelous plant. A member of the daisy, this annual grows the best in slightly acidic soil that is rich in nitrogen and potassium. Lettuce generally matures approximately two months after planting, which ideally begins indoors, several weeks prior to the last frost of winter. This is because the Lettuce seeds will not sprout in soil at or above eighty degrees Fahrenheit. As soon as the soil is no longer frozen, seedlings should be transplanted outdoors to complete their maturation. The more the seedlings are watered, the better, particularly once the weather becomes very hot. The lettuce plant is considered fully mature when the true leaves have formed. lettuce can grow in full sun and partial shade at times.
Most parts of the lettuce plant do not have a use, except as food for livestock. The leaves are the exception, however, with those of many cultivars used worldwide in many different kinds of salads. The ubiquitous iceberg lettuce appears everywhere from tacos to stir-fry and sandwiches to gluten-free wraps. Nutritionally, although lettuce varieties will vary somewhat, lettuce in general is a good source of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, and iron. Darker green lettuces are more nutritious than lighter green types.
Because the leaves of the lettuce plant are so frequently eaten raw, there is always a small risk of bacterial contamination with food-borne pathogens. Multiple outbreaks of E. coli O157:H11, a very nasty pathogen, and also of Shigella, another extremely nasty bacterium, have been linked to contaminated lettuce. Lettuce has also been implicated in cases of Salmonella infection - still another unpleasant bacterium to encounter. Even viruses have been found on lettuces, including Hepatitis A and Norwalk virus. Beyond that, the parasitic protozoa Giardia lamblia has been linked to lettuce consumption. Every one of these bacteria, viruses, and Giardia have the same unpleasant effect on the consumer's gastrointestinal tract, and all are also associated with - and likely caused by - contact with animal feces.
On the other hand, some people claim that lettuce has health-promoting abilities beyond its simple nutritive qualities. Such people recommend lettuce not only for pain relief, but also as a treatment for smallpox and typhoid. Folk medicine also recommends lettuce as a cure for anxiety, rheumatism, madness, and coughs. However, scientific research has not found a speck of evidence to support lettuce as a treatment for any of these ailments.