Lollo Rosso… Aster?

In a supreme act of sacrifice, I allowed all of my lettuces this year to bolt, and then further allowed them to remain in the garden and take up valuable space — all so you, dear readers, could see what happens when Lollo Rosso lettuce (a red loose-leaf) flowers. Some may say this was due to laziness. Others may speculate I merely forgot about them, allowing my memory to be consumed with the minutia of daily life. Whatever. Haters gonna hate. I’m sticking to my story: sacrifice, all for you.

Lollo Rosso lettuce flower
Lollo Rosso lettuce flower

I always assumed, if I thought about it at all, that lettuce was somehow related to cabbage, which is a brassica, like broccoli and mustard. I have to admit, there was never any basis for this assumption. Broccoli leaves aren’t at all similar to lettuce, after all. I suppose my belief came from the similarity between cabbage and lettuce heads.

When cabbage and broccoli bolt, they make very tall stalks covered all over in five-petaled yellow flowers (yes, I’ve got some of those too). Not so with the lettuce. I was amazed to see these soft, aster-like, yellow flowers growing above the Lollo Rosso’s red leaves. They’re surprisingly decorative.

Lollo Rosso lettuce flower
Lollo Rosso lettuce flower

Naturally, I turned to the ever-knowledgeable Internet to explore the mystery. As the appearance of their flowers suggest, lettuce is a member of the aster family, as are daisies and chrysanthemums. I had no idea. All this time, I’ve been munching edible daisy leaves in my salads and on my sandwiches. We might as well rename our bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwiches, BDTs. Or we could call them BATs (the A for aster, of course), and cut them into appropriate shapes as Halloween treats. I’m staggered by today’s garden discovery, as I’m absolutely certain you are. Aren’t you glad I made the sacrifice of that patch of garden so we could all learn this valuable new fact?

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