Friday, June 28, 2013

Wall Lettuce (Mycelis muralis)

Mycelis muralis

Wall Lettuce, now called Mycelis muralis. You still sometimes see the name Lactuca muralis, but surely these flowers are so different in structure from other lettuces (e.g. Great Lettuce, L. virosa)  that a generic distinction is called for.

Nevertheless, a fairly close relative of those delicious Little Gems and Icebergs. I'm sorry to report that the leaves tasted extremely bitter, definitely survival food only. They were probably better in the spring.

Mycelis muralis, flower

When I first got interested in wild flowers, I lived in Durham. Wall Lettuce is quite unusual in the north. I think the first time I came across it was beside a waterfall in Wensleydale. This gave it an element of glamour in my eyes.

When I moved to Frome in Somerset, I was quite surprised to find it as a weed in my garden. It is a common plant down here. Nevertheless the sense of glamour obstinately remains.

On the other hand, I couldn't imagine in that summer of 1982, alongside the river Wear, that some of the plants I then took for granted I'd never see again - at least not for the next 30 years. So now they have acquired glamour, too.

Mycelis muralis, stem-leaf

Mycelis muralis, base of plants

Mycelis muralis, basal leaf
These photos were taken in Swindon a couple of days ago (26th June 2013), just before the photos of Rough Chervil in my previous post.



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