H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Lactuca Sonchifolia - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Lactuca Sonchifolia Described.
Lactuca Sonchifolia - Sow Thistle-leafed Lettuce; Nat. Ord. Compositæ.
This is one of the few ornamental species of a somewhat numerous genus; it is, moreover, perennial and hardy in this climate—characteristics not common to the family. It came from Candia, in 1822, since which time it has been grown in English gardens, more or less, as a decorative plant; it is of unusual form, especially in the foliage. I think it would scarcely be called handsome; but the flowers, which are a fine pale blue, and of the form usual to the order, are too good to be overlooked, and their value is enhanced by the fact of their being produced so late in the year.
In speaking of the flower as a subject of the pleasure garden, it is unnecessary to describe it beyond saying that it is of a rich but pale blue colour, and over 1in. across, produced on stalks nearly 2ft. high, in lax panicles. The leaves are large—about 1ft. long and 9in. wide—have a stout midrib, are pinnate, and most curiously lobed. The leaflets, moreover, are fantastically shaped, being again lobed, also toothed and bent in various ways. The teeth have spine-like points, and the only uniform trait about their form seems to be that the edges are turned backwards. The upper surface is a pale green colour, the under side grey, almost white. It is of rather neat habit, and though I have not grown it in lines, it is only needful to see one good specimen in order to be certain of its effectiveness when so planted; it would be singularly distinct.
It enjoys sunny quarters and deep but light or sandy loam. With me it does well on a raised bed of light earth; its long tap roots will save it from drought during the driest summer, when its fleshy and fast-growing foliage would lead one to think that it could not endure a dry time. It is readily increased by division of the roots or seed.
Flowering period, September to strong frosts.
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