NC State Extension Publications


Skip to Description

Prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola) can be a summer annual or biennial. The woody stems of this plant are hollow, and form in the middle of a basal rosette of leaves. Leaves are deeply lobed, and clasp the base of the stem. The leaf shape is distinctive, with the indentation between lobes forming a "C" shape. Leaves are also oriented at an angle to the stem, with spines on the midrib and base of the leaf. Prickly lettuce has yellow flowers, but these can appear to be white from a distance due to the wooly hairs (pappus) on each seed. This weed is most common in row crops and roadside areas.

Cultural Control

Skip to Cultural Control

Proper turf management is important for biennial broadleaf weed control. Maintain a dense, actively growing turf through proper mowing, fertilizing, and watering practices. Mow at the proper height for your selected adapted turfgrass. Coring and traffic control reduce compaction and encourage desirable turfgrass competition. It is best to control this biennial broadleaf weed in spring or fall, if actively growing at these times.

Chemical Control

Skip to Chemical Control

Herbicide and Formulation Amount of Formulation per 1,000 sq ft Amount of Formulation per Acre Pounds Active Ingredient per Acre
Preemergence and Postemergence Control
mesotrione, MOA 27 (4 SC) (Tenacity) 0.092 to 0.183 fl oz 4 to 8 fl oz 0.125 to 0.25
Precaution and Remarks: Use on residential turf, golf courses (not greens) and sod farms for pre- and postemergence weed control. Tolerant turfgrasses include St. Augustinegrass, centipedegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass. Add a nonionic surfactant and repeat application after 2 to 3 weeks for improved postemergence control. Tank mix with prodiamine 65 WG for extended preemergence grassy weed control. Can be applied at seeding to all tolerant grasses except fine fescue. After turf germination, wait 4 weeks or until turf has been mowed twice before making a postemergence application. Also controls henbit, chickweed, dandelion, white clover, Florida betony, Florida pusley, ground ivy, oxalis, wild violet, creeping bentgrass, and yellow nutsedge.
[sulfentrazone + prodiamine], MOA 14 + 3 (4 SC) (Echelon) 0.184 to 0.826 fl oz 0.5 to 2.25 pt 0.25 to 1.125
Precaution and Remarks: For use in residential and institutional lawns, athletic fields, sod farms, golf course fairways and roughs, roadsides, utility right-of-ways, railways, and industrial areas. Apply to turf following a second mowing if a good root system has been established. Apply up to 12 fluid ounces per acre to bentgrass at 0.5 inch or higher, fine fescue, and perennial ryegrass. Apply 18 to 24 fluid ounces per acre to perennial bluegrass, tall fescue, and all warm season grasses except St. Augustinegrass (do not apply) and bermudagrass (apply 18 to 36 fluid ounces per acre). For sod production, apply 6 months after establishment, and do not harvest within 3 months. Do not apply with adjuvants or surfactants. [Sulfentrazone + prodiamine should not be applied to cool-season turf with N-containing fertilizers unless some short-term discoloration is tolerable.

Species Data

Skip to Species Data
    • summer annual or biennial weed
    • early in the season it is a basal rosette, and then produces an upright stem in late summer
    • prickles are found on the midvein on the lower surface of the leaf
    • long and linear leaves with rounded notches in leaf margin
    • 12 - 2 inches
    • pinnate
    • alternate
    • yellow
Prickly lettuce leaflet number.

Figure 1. Prickly lettuce leaflet number.

Prickly lettuce leaflet number.

Figure 2. Prickly lettuce leaflet number.

Prickly lettuce leaf margin.

Figure 3. Prickly lettuce leaf margin.

Prickly lettuce leaf margin.

Figure 4. Prickly lettuce leaf margin.

Prickly lettuce root type.

Figure 5. Prickly lettuce root type.

Prickly lettuce root type.

Figure 6. Prickly lettuce root type.


Extension Specialist (Turfgrass/Forage Crop Weed Mgt)
Crop & Soil Sciences

Find more information at the following NC State Extension websites:

Publication date: Nov. 22, 2017

N.C. Cooperative Extension prohibits discrimination and harassment regardless of age, color, disability, family and marital status, gender identity, national origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation and veteran status.