Prickly lettuce is probably showing up outside your home about now. Be on the lookout for a small basal rosette to come up first. The plant will over winter like this, but come spring, the rosette leaves will die off and a stem will emerge. Is your lawn prepared to fight off this weed? Here's how to identify and control it.
What does prickly lettuce look like?
Prickly Lettuce can be identified by the small prickles on the underside of the leaves, which are generally 2 times longer than they are wide. Once the rosette leaves die off, the new leaves will bear the tell tale prickles. They like dry conditions, but can tolerate growing in moist areas. The tap root goes deep and exudes a milky sap with cut or crushed. When flowering, the stem produces many yellow daisy-like flowers which mature into fuzzy seed heads that disperse seeds.
How do you control Prickly Lettuce?
A well-maintained lawn is the first defense. Grass will out-compete this weed for food and nutrients. Mowing won't control the rosettes as they grow low to the soil. The spring and fall pre-emergent applications will keep most seeds from germinating. If you already have them growing, pulling them out will surely get rid of them, but beware, the stems and roots will exude a milky white sap so wear protective gloves. A post-emergent treatment will work if you don't want go get your hands dirty! Flowers mature into small fuzzy seed heads
Appearance: Leaves are alternate to one another and are mostly 2-2 1/2 times longer than wide. They have a distinct row of stiff, sharp prickles on the underside of the midribs. Young plants form basal rosettes, then grow erect when in the second year of growing. They can grow up to 6 ft tall. Flowers are yellow and daisy-like.
Life cycle: Winter annual
Where it grows: Lawns, gardens, landscaped areas, roadsides, and other disturbed areas. Also present in grasslands, fields, and croplands
Reproduce by: Seed
How to prevent: Pre-emergent herbicides will prevent germination of seeds.
How to remove: Post-emergent herbicide is recommended as you see rosettes emerge.