Mulgedium pulchellum (Showy Blue Lettuce)
|Also known as:|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; moist prairie, meadows, thickets|
|Bloom season:||June - September|
|Plant height:||1 to 3 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Open panicles of showy blue dandelion type flowers, ½ to 1 inch across. Flowers have 14 to 50 rays (petals) with 5 small teeth at the tip and fading to white at the base. Each ray has a blue divided style and a blue stamen at the base. Elongated overlapping bracts form a cylindrical tube around the base of the flower.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are oblong to lanceolate, 3 to 6 inches long, ½ to 1½ inches wide, sometimes shallowly lobed at base, especially the lower leaves. The few basal leaves are stalked, stem leaves are stalkless or clasping, toothless or marginally toothed, smooth on the upper surface, sometimes with a fine waxy bloom underneath. Stems are slender, smooth or finely hairy at base, and leafy up to the panicles.
Notes:This species was formerly in the Lactuca genus, going by a number of names: Lactuca tatarica, Lactuca pulchella, Lactuca oblongifolia. Our definitive reference, Flora of North America, puts it in genus Mulgedium, as does the DNR, so that is where we'll keep it. The flowers are much like Chicory (Cichorium intybus) but Chicory has much larger flowers, is a taller plant, and the clusters are more like elongated spikes. While widespread throughout Minnesota and North America this species is not one we've commonly encountered. Its frail demeanor and sparse dispursement within its habitat may be reasons it may not stand out and catch the eye.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken in Anoka County and the Dakotas.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?