Permaculture Subtropical Self-Seeding Edibles – Lactuca Indica – Chinese Sword Lettuce, Chinese Tree Lettuce, Indian Lettuce

Are you looking for an easy-to-grow, self-seeding lettuce replacement? Don’t look any longer! Lactuca Indica, Indian Lettuce is one of the easiest edibles to grow in a subtropical climate and if you have it, you have it forever! The leaves are tender and you can harvest them while the plant is growing. The leaves can be eaten raw but you can also add them into stir-fries, cook them, ferment them and add or mix them with any other veggies. The older leaves can be used as cabbage replacement when cooked with a dash of sugar as the older leaves have little of a tarty bitter taste, very healthy for your liver by the way. The stem is also edible and some are saying that it tastes similar to asparagus after cooking. The entire plant is rich in milky sap, the same as other lettuce species. It contains Lactucarium which has several medicinal uses.

It grows all year round in the subtropical climate and will never disappoint you. I bought one young plant about two years ago and my food forest is full of it now! Some of them are reaching up to 2m in height! We have an abundance of it now so I always have fresh greens for us and for our chickens, ducks, and geese, too! They love it and so do the beneficial insects when you let the plant go to flowers. All over, this is definitely a ‘must’ in every food forest. It can also be grown in a colder climate as an annual.

Description: Easy to grow, perennial/annual self-seeding edible plant, growing up to 2m height. Pollination by insects. Comes originally from Asia. It comes in two different leaves shapes and we grow both of them. No taste difference. 

Growing conditions: It prefers well-drained soil but it grows easily in a wide range of soil conditions and different ph – acidic, neutral, and alkaline. Likes sunny spots but is also happy to grow in half-shade or shade.

Edible uses: Leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Stems need to be peeled and cooked.

How we eat it: on a sandwich, in salads, in stir-fries, as chips – baked in the oven; as cabbage replacement, as spinach replacement, fermented, quickly fried on a pan with garlic and olive oil, as food wrapper for snacks and so on. any other ideas on how to eat these healthy and delicious leaves? Let me know!