My initial foray into the production of lactucarium was hampered by one main issue, the lack of harvestable material. This has changed this season (Spring 2021). I recently moved into a new house. When I did a walk through inspection about 6 weeks ago the lawns were all mowed and the gardens manicured as you can see in the photo below.
The date we moved in however things looked very different. The yard had not been maintained in the intervening time and the weeds were growing quite nicely. Down the side of the front yard amongst the pony tail palms had sprung up the most vibrant patch of wild lettuce that I had ever come across; and in my front yard no less.
The plants are young, vibrant and succulent. They are a little beyond the stage I would eat them (due to the presence of prickles on the underside of the leaf).
Note the prickles on the underside of the leaves. These prickles are quite soft even at this stage. When the plant gets taller and the stem becomes more rigid these prickles will become stiffer. When the plant is at its most mature and starts to dry out the prickles become more irritating. They never really become strong enough to break skin though (except maybe the most sensitive skin – young children might be scratched by them)
The medicinal use of this plant is not limited to its resin. The dried, powdered herb is also used. I will thin this stand of plants just prior to flowering and will dry, powder and encapsulate the harvested material.
Once these plants have perhaps doubled in size and have grown stalks thick enough to be harvested I will begin, once again, the process of scoring them and collecting the dried resin. I think my chances of collecting serviceable amounts of resin is looking good this season.
I shall keep you informed.