Identifying weeds is essential, as they can take over your garden and choke out the plants you’re trying to grow. Lettuce is a popular garden staple, so it’s crucial to be able to distinguish between lettuce and its look-alike weeds. This list of weeds that look like lettuce will help you do just that.
Weeds that look like lettuce
A few types of weeds can often be mistaken for lettuce. These weeds can be a nuisance in gardens as they compete for space and nutrients. Here are some of the most common look-a-likes:
Dandelions are one of the most common weeds in North America. They seem to spring up from nowhere in lawns and gardens and can be challenging to get rid of due to the long taproot. Dandelion leaves are deeply lobed and resemble some varieties of lettuce. The flowers are yellow.
Cats ear (Hypochaeris radicata) is also known as flatweed, false dandelion, or cat’s-ear dandelion. It looks similar to a dandelion and can also be mistaken for lettuce due to foliage. This plant is part of the Asteraceae botanical family.
Native to Europe and Asia, cats’ ear is a common weed in lawns and gardens. It is a low-growing plant with spreading, hairy leaves that form a rosette at the base of the plant. The flowers are small and yellow, similar to a dandelion. The plants also have a long taproot which makes them hard to dig up and remove completely, as they can regrow from a small piece of leftover root.
The leaves of chicory are similar to those of lettuce, and the plant produces blue or violet flowers. Chicory is a weed in many parts of the world but is also grown as a vegetable and used as a herbal remedy. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked like spinach. The roots can be roasted and ground to make a coffee substitute. Chicory is also used as a source of food for livestock.
Chicory is also a host plant for the caterpillars of several types of butterflies, including the painted lady (Cynthia cardui).
Curly dock (Rumex crispus) is a herbaceous perennial plant in the buckwheat family. Curly dock is often found growing in damp areas such as wetlands, ditches, and along the edges of streams and ponds. It can also be found in gardens, lawns, and waste areas.
The curly dock leaves are long and narrow with wavy or curled margins. They can be up to 60 cm (24 inches) long and 10 cm (4 inches) wide. The leaves are slightly shiny with a reddish or purplish tinge, especially on the underside. The plant produces small green flowers that turn red or brown as they mature.
Thistles can be found growing in a variety of habitats, including roadsides, waste areas, pastures, and gardens. Sow thistles can look like lettuce when they first start to grow. The plant forms a rosette of leaves close to the ground and then produces a tall flowering stalk. The leaves are spiny and deeply lobed, and the flowers are purple or pink.
Wild lettuce is a common weed with dark green, hairy leaves that resemble lettuce. The flowers are small and yellow, forming clusters at the top of the plant.
Weeds are a problem in gardens and lawns because they can spread rapidly and crowd out other plants. Some can also be difficult to remove entirely due to their deep taproots. Weeds that look like lettuce, such as dandelions and chicory, are edible and can be used in salads or cooked like spinach.