So, my favorite, most hardy and prolific garden plant is either mislabeled or not well known.
Sold locally as 'tree lettuce', but its definitely not asparagus lettuce which also uses that name.
Hard to find information about it on google, hard to even find more than a few pictures of it - which is a real shame.
You can see some here at the front of the garden:
This plant produces large lime green leaves along a stem that can easily surpass 1metre and provide quick shade.
The seeds are larger and more numerous than other lettuce varieties.
It grows year round, there is always some flowering and germinating and it copes fine with summer days over 40C.
The taste is ... inoffensive, but not great. Apart from the wild roadside Lactuca weed, this is the worst tasting lettuce I've tried - it's very 'grassy' flavored when eaten on it's own.
But it tastes fine when mixed with herbs/other greens/tomatos or a dressing and it thrives on neglect, so it's #1 in my book.
I try to specialize in plants that are hardy, but nothing can establish itself in the lawn better than tree lettuce.
A gardening neighbour decided she hates the plant because of it's taste and proclivity to spread outside the garden, however I've found that nothing larger than a mite wants to eat these leaves, while other plants in the garden regularly get nibbled by larger insects, marsupials and rodents.
I think I tracked down a more accurate variety name and country of origin through google many years ago, but now I can't seem to find it.
I vaguely recall it being from Asia (Himalaya?) and that it was a Lactuca virosa/sativa of some variety.
If anyone has any info or questions, I can't talk about this plant enough.
If I could only take 10 plants to garden on a deserted island - this would be one of them.
I believe it's a cornerstone 'survivalist' species and also a valuable green for Australia, where most of the country is too hot to grow lettuce without it instantly bolting.
Opportunistic marsupials are a real gardening problem here, so having nutritious salad greens that no animal wants to eat is a real boon.
Normally trees don't drive trucks. Does this tiny ad have a license?