Sep 15 2013
Though I know this plant grows in western Pennsylvania and have seen its mysterious leaves in Spring, the only place I’ve seen it produce this many flowers is in Maine.
Tall White Lettuce (Prenanthes altissima) is sometimes called Tall Rattlesnakeroot. It has such variable leaves and flowers that Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide keys it out with both five and six repeating parts.
The one distinguishing feature is drooping greenish flowers whose stamens hang below the petals. I can’t think of any other plant that looks like this.
Descriptions of Tall White Lettuce say it tastes bitter, so why is it called “”lettuce”?
Better yet, why “rattlesnake root”?
(photos by Kate St. John)