Sunday, 26 July 2015

Lamb's Lettuce (Valerianella locusta)

Lamb's Lettuce (Valerianella locusta) is a hardy low growing annual plant from the Caprifoliaceae family. It is also known as corn salad, common corn salad, m√Ęche, fetticus, field salad and rapunzel. It grows wild in many areas of the world including the British Isles and Europe.


Lamb's Lettuce (Valerianella locusta)


























Lamb's lettuce is a very useful winter crop providing green salad leaves throughout the cold winter months. Considered very beneficial to health, it contains a range of vitamins and minerals.

Growing methods

Lamb's lettuce can be easily grown from seed and will provide leaves all year round. Sow seed directly into the ground 1 cm deep in a prepared seed bed. Lightly cover with soil. Seeds can be broadcast or sown in rows. Sow seeds around 15 cm apart for larger individual plants. Alternatively, sow seeds thickly and later thin out the rows. The thinnings can be used in salads.

Seeds take about two weeks to germinate depending on the temperature and around 30 to 60 days from sowing to harvesting. Sow seeds every few weeks from early spring to late summer for a continual supply of plants throughout the year. Leave plants to flower and they will self-seed thus saving the time and effort of growing it. Use scissors to cut off the top growth and leave the roots in the ground to allow the plant to produce a second flush of leaves.

Lamb's lettuce are hardy plants and will survive very cold weather including frosts and snow.

Raw edible parts

It is widely reported that the leaves and flowers are edible raw. However, we have eaten the whole plant at various times with no ill effects. The melt-in-the-mouth leaves are excellent in salads and can be used as a straight substitute for lettuce or spinach. Leaves are mild and have a slight nutty flavour. They are generally best eaten before the plant flowers. Some say the plants become bitter when they flower but we don't find this the case and eat the flowers alongside the leaves. The root is tiny and best left in the ground so the plant can produce more leaves.

The leaves of European corn salad (Valerianella carinata) and Italian corn salad (V. eriocarpa) can be used in a similar way.