Celtuce, Asparagus Lettuce

Lactuca sativa var. augustana. is a member of the Asteraceae (sunflower) family.

It looks like a cross between celery and lettuce. The outer leaves resemble loose leaf lettuce, but are a lighter green.

Market information

Use. The leaves may be eaten in salads at a young tender stage. The soft, translucent green central core may be eaten fresh, either sliced or diced into a salad. In China, the fleshy stem is cut into sections and cooked by boiling or stewing. It tastes like a cross between a mild summer squash and an artichoke. It is reported to have 3 times the vitamin C content of lettuce.


Climatic requirements. Cool season crop. Mean temperature 50-60 F.

Propagation and care. It should be planted from the seed in the fall, winter, or early spring, spaced at about 8 inches in the row and treated like regular lettuce. Soon after the development of the outer leaves, a central stalk bearing tiny leaves at the top starts to grow. When the stem is 12 to 18 inches long cut it off down into the leafy part of the plant. Peel the stem because the outer edges contain a bitter milky sap. The soft, translucent, green central core is the edible part.


W. Atlee Burpee & Co., 300 Park Avenue, Warmister, PA 18974.Nichols Garden Nursery, 1190 North Pacific Hwy, Albany, OR 97321.
Seeds Blum, Idaho City Stage, Boise, ID 83706.
Sunrise Enterprises, P.O. Box 10058, Elmwood, Conn. 06110-0058.
Tsang and Ma, P. O. Box 5644, Redwood City, CA 94063.

More information:

Stephens, James. Minor Vegetables. Univ. of Florida Cooperative Extension Bulletin SP-40. June 1988. 123 pp.

Yamaguchi, Mas. World Vegetables. AVI Publishing Co., Inc. Westport, Conn. 1983. 415 pp.

Adapted from James Stephens bulletin Minor Vegetables by Claudia Myers, UC Small Farm Center.


Reviewed by Beth Benjamin and Wendy Krupnick at Shepherd's Seeds, 12/13/89.

Reviewed by Joyce McClellan, 12/14/89.


Figure 1. Celtuce is picked when the stem is 12 to 18 inches long. (Photo by Hunter Johnson).