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Lettuce is an ingredient in many salads and can be used to decorate sandwiches and other snacks. You can buy it in the store or grow it on your site.
But not everyone knows where this plant came from, what types there are and what this vegetable is useful for. In the article, we will analyze in detail what kind of plant it is and is it an onion, what its benefits and harms are, as well as how it is used in cooking and in folk medicine.
What is this plant and is it an onion?
Lettuce is a vegetable and belongs to the "Astrovye" family. More than a hundred species of plants are known, but the most popular among them is "Sowing lettuce" or "Lettuce". People also call it "lettuce", but it has nothing to do with the "Onion" family. It is believed that this name was appropriated simply because of the sound of the phrase you liked or because the overripe salad starts to taste bitter.
In Latin, lettuce sounds like "Lactūca", derived from "Lac" - milk. It was named so because of the milky sap that is released from the stems of the plant during damage. In English, the plant is called "lettuce" or "salade laitue".
Wild lettuce is a poisonous plant. However, it is widely used in medicine.
What it looks like: detailed description
Biologically, lettuce is described as a long-stemmed annual plant that can reach 60-120 cm in length. Serrated or round leaves can be green or reddish, flowers are yellow.
Since there are a lot of plant species, each of them has a specific appearance. There is leaf lettuce and head lettuce.
- The first has jagged green or burgundy leaves.
- Head lettuce looks like a round or slightly flat loose head of cabbage with smooth or jagged leaves.
History and geography of habitation
According to excavations and various studies, scientists have found that lettuce was eaten and used for medicinal purposes even in Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece, and the latter ate not only leaves, but also stems, considering them a useful product. The Romans used salad as a dessert, and then as an appetizer. They canned and pickled it.
Over time, the salad began to spread in Spain, Central Europe, England, France, Germany, America, Japan and other countries. Varieties of lettuce were imported to Russia from the West after the adoption of Christianity. It is known that industrial cultivation in the Slavic countries began to be engaged in from the middle of the 19th century.
You will learn exactly how this plant looks from the following photos:
Leek Comparison: The Difference Between Plants
Lettuce is a salad whose leaves are added to cold dishes or snacks. Leek or lettuce is a herbal vegetable that belongs to the Onion family. It has a white stem - a small bulb and long, flat stems. Both the white part and the leaves are used in food, using as a seasoning or additive for a dish.
Types and varieties
There are 147 known species of lettuce, but many of them are weeds. Each of them has its own peculiarity and distinctive look. The most popular varieties are:
- Lollo Rosso;
- Oak salad;
- Roman and others.
The most commonly used varieties are called:
- Lollo san;
- Iceberg and many others.
Lettuce is sown in plots, but there are species that grow in fields, on river banks, or in the mountains. Such is the wild lettuce, which has narcotic properties and is used in medicine.
The benefits and harms of leaves
- This plant is composed of many beneficial vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, iron, copper, B vitamins and vitamins C, A.
- With the help of this product, digestion is improved, hair condition is restored and immunity is strengthened.
- If you eat lettuce while losing weight, then it will contribute to weight loss.
It is forbidden to eat a vegetable with enterocolitis, urolithiasis and gout. You will find all the details about the benefits and dangers of this wonderful plant in another article.
- Most often, lettuce is consumed raw, added to salads or sandwiches.
- You can make healthy juice from it.
- Also, the vegetable can be stewed and fried, added to sauces and other hot dishes.
- Often, because of the beautiful leaves, lettuce is used to decorate dishes, such as snacks.
In folk medicine
Due to its multicomponent composition, lettuce is used in folk medicine. for the treatment of cough, gastritis or liver problems.
- Infusion with this plant will help against fatigue, insomnia and nervous breakdowns.
- If you have bowel problems, doctors recommend consuming salad more often.
- Lettuce juice squeezed from the leaves helps to get rid of various inflammations on the skin.
- And the seeds can be taken to improve lactation in lactating women.
How to choose the store?
Of course, it is better to grow lettuce on your own, but not everyone wants or can do this, so you have to buy lettuce in stores. There are some tips to look out for when buying:
- The leaves should not be sluggish and damaged, this indicates that the lettuce has been stored for a long time and all the nutrients have evaporated by 70%.
- Lettuce color should be bright green or reddish, without yellow or dry spots.
- There should be no mucus on the stems, this is also an indicator of bad lettuce.
- There should be no foreign unpleasant odor from the product.
- A dark stalk indicates a spoiled plant.
- It is better to purchase a bunch of lettuce, the root of which is in a special pot.
- The lettuce should be firm to the touch.
- There is no need to buy a pre-cut product. Most likely, spoiled vegetables that have lost their presentation were subjected to such processing.
How to store?
After the salad has been bought or plucked, you need to rinse and dry each leaf with paper napkins before sending it to the refrigerator. This is where it is best to store the product.
Lettuce can be placed in a glass of water or simply put in a bag, but such methods will save the product for only a day.
In a tightly closed glass or plastic container, leaves will stay fresh for up to two weeks.
To keep the freshness of the vegetable for longer, you need to choose leaves with special pots for the roots. This is how manufacturers care about the quality of their product.
In open ground
- Lettuce is planted in open ground with seeds placed in holes up to 0.5 mm in size.
- The distance between leafy crops should be 10 cm, between head varieties - 20-30 cm. Fertile, drained soil is best suited. Since this is a cold-resistant plant, it must be sown from mid-spring to mid-summer, with intervals of two weeks between planting.
- After the plant has three leaves, the beds need to be loosened and thinned out.
- The procedure is repeated two weeks later.
Can you plant at home?
The salad can be grown at home on the windowsill or on the balcony in any season. You just need to choose a suitable variety for home cultivation, pick up a shallow pot with drainage and garden soil. After sowing, you will need to cover with polyethylene for several days.
Indoor lettuce needs constant warmth and sunlight. Sometimes you need to thin out the shoots.
Lettuce does not require special care. It is necessary to loosen the soil in time, remove weeds and water. Watering should be plentiful, but not frequent, since excess water leads to rotting of the plant and the reproduction of pests. In the hot season, you need to water every day, in the cool - up to 2-3 times a week. In a separate article, we will tell you in detail about growing lettuce.
When to Harvest?
Since lettuce is an early ripening crop, the first harvest appears after 20 or more days, depending on the variety. It is advisable to harvest the vegetable in the morning before watering. Leaves must be carefully cut or plucked with roots.
If the seeds are sown in the ground at intervals and grown on a windowsill, then the crop can be harvested continuously throughout the year. On average, this is up to 10-15 times a year.
Any kind of lettuce is beautiful to look at and contains many vitamins, therefore, it is imperative to include such a product in the diet. You can buy it on store shelves or grow it at home. But you should always take into account that the product has contraindications and excessive use can lead to a negative effect.