Yoshizen's Blog

Lettuce and Spinach — its Origin


One of the most unique Photographer / Artist, Karen showed her stunningly beautiful

photos of Canada Lettuce seed in her blog “Draw and Shoot” it awaken my memory that

I had the photo of this (or the one, closely related) plant — The seed-pod in her photo

looks very much like a Dandelion’s, as you can see.  = In deed, this plant is a cousin of

Dandelion and as its name suggests, it closely related to the Lettuce.  

Or the Lettuce was descended from this kind of Plant, namely

Luctuca of Asteraceae (Compositae) Family.   When I found that this plant was the

ancestor of the Lettuce, I was shocked —– as it was completely out of my imagination.  

( Not only it looks so different but also I’ve never seen it in an open field and flowering.)

A book, I saw said that  “to eliminate its bitter tasted white sap, it took 200 years” though,

Wikipedia says Lettuce has been cultivated since ancient Egyptian time.  So, the English

local farmer might have had their own approach, instead to import the established

variety from Mediterranean.


Something similar stories are in Spinach.

The photo left is a plant belongs to

Spinacia in Amaranthaceae family.

The Spinach was created from this kind

of plant, and this weed is also edible.

(Though, this plant contains Oxalic acid,

thus if eat a lots, it would cause an ulcer 

on the mouth.)

The cultivated variety is not only to eat

leaves but also there was a variety to eat 

thickened stem, called “Poorman’s Asparagus”. And other was called Lincolnshire Spinach. 

—– In deed, we human being is very resourceful — or used to be so poor to scrape the life ?

Still, there is a very funny situation. Despite increased world population, therefore needs

lots more food and in deed great number of the people are starving,  in the same time,

we are said to be wasting 1/3 of food. (couldn’t sell in the super-market, due to a blemish.  

Or made them rotten in a fridge due to too much shopping.) —– Something wrong isn’t it ?


4 Responses

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  1. drawandshoot said, on September 22, 2013 at 20:10

    You are so right, Yoshizen, it is hard to fathom how we waste so much food. We could certainly be using our resources in a much more efficient and responsible way.

    Thanks for your kind words and the link, it’s cool to imagine how our modern day lettuce might have developed from those sort of seeds!

    • yoshizen said, on September 22, 2013 at 20:37

      Spinach was not too hard to guess. But Lettuce has gone too far beyond the recognition. 🙂
      Still all done without GM. Nature seems to be much more flexible than we think.

  2. elenacaravela said, on September 22, 2013 at 20:24

    I remember this while I enjoy my salad tonight!

    • yoshizen said, on September 22, 2013 at 20:42

      Good, and we should be thankful to the farmers who has been
      work hard to improve the quality and the taste in the past thousand of years !

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