Lactuca farinulenta (Chiov.) Cufod.
Launaea courtetiana O.Hoffm. & Muschl.
Launaea exauriculata (Oliv. & Hiern) Amin ex Boulos
Launaea farinulenta Chiov.
Launaea virgata O.Hoffm. & Muschl.
Sonchus bipontini exauriculatus Oliv. & Hiern
Sonchus bipontini pinnatifidus Oliv. & Hiern
Sonchus exauriculatus (Oliv. & Hiern) O.Hoffm.
Sonchus kabarensis De Wild.
Sonchus oliveri-hiernii Boulos
Common Name: Bitter Lettuce
Launaea cornuta is a herbaceous perennial plant. It has a creeping root system that produces, at intervals along the root, a basal rosette of leaves with a central stem that is usually up to 1 metre tall, occasionally to 1.5 metres[
The leaves are a bitter but popular vegetable in East Africa, whilst the plant also has local medicinal uses. The plant is usually harvested from the wild, but is also sometimes cultivated in eastern Africa as a leaf crop. It is often found for sale in local markets[
Tropical Africa - Nigeria to Somalia, south to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, avoiding wetter areas.
Mainly in disturbed localities such as roadsides, or as a troublesome weed in perennial plantations of trees or shrubs, it can also be found in grassland. Grows mainly in hot, lowland, coastal areas, but also at higher elevations up to 2,300 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Prefers a sandy soil in a relatively dry locality, but also succeeds in loams and black cotton soils[
A weed within its native range, care should be taken to prevent the plant spreading elsewhere as a weed[
After emergence, the young plant develops a basal rosette of leaves, with a leafy flowering stalk being formed soon after[
The plant can flower all year round[
After fruiting new growth develops from the base of the stem and from the root. Even during the dry season the plants form new rosette leaves and they keep producing new shoots from the roots for several years[
The foliage is commonly eaten as a vegetable[
]. It is bitter, like quinine, and serves also to flavour food in Kenya[
]. The larger young leaves from the basal rosette are the least bitter and the most commonly eaten[
The plant is used to give a bitter flavour to beer[
Coastal people in east Africa believe that the leaves can prevent and cure malaria, whereas people with stomach problems or ulcers should not eat it[
Water in which the leaves have been cooked to eat as spinach is used as a hair-wash to kill lice[
The plant is held to have an analgesic property. The whole plant is taken to relieve pain in the spleen, and the sap is instilled into the ear to relieve earache[
]. A decoction of the whole plant is used externally to treat measles[
A cold water infusion of the roots is used as a remedy for stomach ache, whilst a root-decoction combined with the leaf-sap is taken for the same trouble[
]. The root is used to remedy swollen testicles, gonorrhoea, syphilis, typhus and cough, and as a treatment for hookworm[
Chopped-up into small pieces and cooked in a little water, the liquor is used as a gargle to treat sore-throats[
]. The root is used as a lotion to treat eye and ear troubles[
Water in which the leaves have been cooked to eat as spinach is used in Tanganyika as a hair-wash to kill lice[
Seed - sown in situ, it germinates within a few days[
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