There are many kinds of Lettuce, from Wild Lettuce to Romaine to Iceberg. None of them look exactly the same, but that doesn’t mean that other plants don’t look similar. You can easily find a match no matter which sort of Lettuce you pick.
Iceberg Lettuce shares characteristics with Savoy Cabbage, while Green Leaf Lettuce looks like an Endive, and Purple Lettuce looks similar to a few succulents, while Wild Lettuces have deadly matches that make it important to know how to tell the difference.
There are also many more varieties of Lettuce than you may realize. There are seven main groups that we sell in stores. There are a couple more found in the wild and plants that aren’t lettuce but are commonly referred to as lettuce. Each looks a little different from the other but still has matches, whether in the wild or the store aisle.
Poisonous Plants That Look Like Wild Lettuce
Wild Lettuce is so-called because it is found in the wild. Technically, it isn’t Lettuce but a weed. However, it can be eaten and has a few health benefits. This Lettuce is closely related to dandelions and shares some similar properties. Some of the other names Wild Lettuce goes by are:
- Bitter Lettuce
- Acrid Lettuce
- Green Endive
- Strong-Scented Lettuce
- Poison Lettuce
- Opium Lettuce
The last two names aren’t entirely comforting, and that is because although you can eat this plant, you must handle it with care to get rid of the toxins that are in the plant. The symptoms are relatively mild, causing issues like stomach cramps, anxiety, dizziness, sweating, and heart palpitations.
Far worse plants out there can be mistaken for wild lettuce. These are plants like:
- Water Hemlock
The plants listed above are poisonous and can cause serious harm if you eat them by mistake. If you are ever in doubt about which plant you are looking at, it is best to avoid it.
You can often tell Wild Lettuce from other plants by looking at their whole plant. For example, they usually have simple leaves, and the leaves on the stalk tend to alternate. There are a lot of Wild Lettuce varieties, so it is hard to get a full idea of these plants. Most of them have yellow leaves but come in many shades. The flowers are also often composite.
What Else Looks Like Wild Lettuce?
Not every plant that looks like Wild Lettuce is poisonous. Other common plants the Wild Lettuce can be mistaken for are:
- Milk Thistle
- Sow Thistle
These are the most common, non-poisonous plants that look similar to Wild Lettuce. They are relatively easy to tell apart, thanks to the hairs on the leaves.
What Is the Flower That Looks Like Lettuce?
A flower that looks like Lettuce or Cabbage is the Brassica Oleracea. This type of Kale is often known as Flowering Kale or Ornamental Cabbage. It looks so similar to cabbage because it is the main plant which we cultivated the cabbage we have today.
This plant, the Ornamental Cabbage, was the ancestor of a wide variety of plants, including:
- Brussel Sprouts
While it is more closely related to Cabbage than Lettuce, the two products are often mixed up, specifically Iceberg Lettuce, so it makes sense that this flower looks similar to Lettuce.
What Is a Plant That Looks Like Purple Lettuce?
Red Lettuce, also known as Purple Lettuce, has a distinct, purple-red color. It is hard to imagine that many plants look like it. It’s even harder to believe that the plant commonly thought to look like Purple Lettuce is a succulent.
Echeveria is a unique succulent, and there are many different species, some of which look very similar to a head of lettuce. For example, while the Arlie Wright Echeveria is a lot redder, it has a similar shape to lettuce.
What Succulent Looks Like Lettuce?
While Echeveria is a plant that looks a lot like lettuce in some cases, it isn’t the only one. There is also the Flaming Katy. When it is flowering, it looks nothing like lettuce, the leaves themselves can look very similar to lettuce.
What Plant Looks Like Fuzzy Lettuce?
The plant that looks like fuzzy lettuce is the Mullein plant. These medicinal plants have large leaves that are fuzzy and usually light silver-green. They grow much larger than lettuce, easily reaching 8-10 feet (2.5 to 3 m) tall, though 6 feet (2 m) is much more common to find. Each leaf can reach about 12 to 15 inches (30.5 to 38 cm) long.
They look similar to lettuce for the first year, with overlapping, big leaves that create a ball shape. However, in their second year, they usually shoot up a tall stalk from which flowers grow.
What Plant Looks Like Miner’s Lettuce?
Miner’s Lettuce looks very distinct. It doesn’t look anything like other Lettuce types, even Wild Lettuce. It gets its name from the fact that miners used to eat lettuce as a sort of salad.
They usually have tall stems that end with big, circular-looking leaves. When they bloom, white flowers grow in the center of the leaf.
The plant they look most similar to is Dollarweed. While Dollarweed isn’t poisonous, it can be very bitter, so it is a good idea not to mix up these two plants. Like Miner’s Lettuce, Dollarweed grows on stems that lead up to circular leaves that look like lily pads.
The major difference between the two is that Dollarweed grows flowers on separate stems than the stem with the leaf. They are also tiny little white flowers, but instead of growing through the center of the leaves, they grow beside them.
Is Miner’s Lettuce the Same as Purslane?
Miner’s Lettuce is also known as Winter Purslane or Spring Beauty. However, despite being referred to as a Purslane, they are not a Purslane. However, they are a part of the Portulaca family, with edible and tasty leaves.
What Is Similar to Green Leaf Lettuce?
Other plants that can easily be swapped out for Lettuce tend to look the most like Green Leaf Lettuce. Some examples are Arugula and Escarole.
Arugula is a little more distinct, as they don’t grow in heads like lettuce does, and is usually found in stores in containers similar to spinach. However, it is long and lanky and has ribbing in the leaves that can be confused sometimes with Green Leaf Lettuce.
Escarole looks much more similar in appearance. They come in a head and start with a white bottom and ribs that change into green leaves. Usually, Escarole has thicker leaves and is a bit more bitter and distinctive in flavors. It is better cooked, unlike lettuce.
Finally, Napa Cabbage is another plant that can be mixed up with Green Leaf Lettuce. While Savoy Cabbage looks a lot like Iceberg Lettuce, Napa Cabbage is longer, starts off white, and moves to green towards the tips of the leaves. It is usually lighter in color and has much more white than Green Leaf Lettuce, but if you aren’t paying too close attention, you may not be able to tell the difference.
There are a lot of varieties of Lettuce out there and a lot of plants that look very similar. While most of them are, thankfully, edible, some are not. Additionally, even edible ones have a different way they should be prepared and a different taste profile.
Iceberg Lettuce shares many characteristics with Savoy Cabbage, while Green Leaf Lettuce looks like an Endive, and even Purple Lettuce has succulents that look similar to lettuce, while Wild Lettuces have deadly matches that make it important to know how to tell the difference.
Even regular Lettuce, like Iceberg, Romaine, and Green Leaf Lettuce, can be challenging to identify in a store if you don’t have labels to tell them apart from plants like Cabbage, Escarole, and Arugula. It is always important to double-check, or your dinner salad may not be very tasty.