Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Hairy Lettuce - Lactuca hirsuta   Muhlenberg ex Nuttall
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Section 6 » Order Asterales » Family Asteraceae
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AuthorMuhlenberg ex Nuttall
DistributionCoastal Plain (mostly northern) and lower Piedmont; disjunct to the low Mountains. Absent from the Sandhills and most of the Piedmont. Most collection records are from before the publication of RAB (1968), as the counties of collections in SERNEC and on the map below are disturbingly similar to those in that reference, and no obviously "new" collections are apparent in SERNEC except for Robeson County (2010).

N.S. to southern Ont., south to northern FL and TX.
AbundanceFormerly uncommon in the northern Coastal Plain, and rare over the central and southern Coastal Plain, the eastern Piedmont, and in the mountains. Certainly it has clearly declined in the state, apparently alarmingly, and few if any recent botanists/biologists have seen it. Thus, the editors are making a drastic suggested State Rank of S1? (from the NCNHP's S3? rank) and believe that it should go onto a Watch List, and probably onto the Significantly Rare list. The disappearance of the species from NC mirrors that from some or many other areas within its fairly large range; perhaps it was adapted to fire for survival.
HabitatDry sandy or rocky soils of pine-deciduous woodlands and hardwoods, including openings and edges; rocky slopes, wooded roadsides.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting late May-October.
IdentificationAs its name suggests, Hairy Lettuce has a rather hairy stem and leaf midribs; however, some plants are sparsely hairy. Leaves ascend far up the stem and are deeply lobed, each lobe with the outer end broader than the inner. Heads are usually yellow or orangey yellow, but apparently some may be bluish. Yellow-flowered plants can be told from Canada Lettuce (L. canadensis) by hairy stem (vs. glabrate) and by broad-tipped leaf lobes. Blue-flowered plants can be told from Grassleaf Lettuce (L. graminifolia) by most of the leaves deeply lobed, including stem leaves, and these lobes broad-tipped instead of narrow-tipped.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Tall Hairy Lettuce
State RankS3? [S1?]
Global RankG5? [G4?]
State Status[W1]
US Status
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