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Common (vernacular) names applied to California vascular plants

compiled by Elizabeth Painter

up to date as of May 1, 2016

Common names (also referred to as vernacular names) are applied differently at different times and places by different users. This list is compiled from many sources and is intended to be as comprehensive as possible. It is not intended to indicate which common name is correct or preferred. Please send comments about this page to Elizabeth Painter (

TaxonLactuca serriola
Family common name(s)composite; composita; comp; aster; asterwort; asterworts; sunflower; daisy; dandelion
Genus common name(s)lettuce
Species common name(s)common prickly lettuce; prickly wild lettuce; prickly blue lettuce; serriola prickly lettuce; China lettuce; scar lettuce
Common name(s) generally applied to other taxa or multiple taxaprickly lettuce is applied to multiple Lactuca taxa; sow-thistle, sow thistle, sowthistle are more commonly applied to Sonchus; horse thistle, horse-thistle, wild lettuce, wild-lettuce, wildlettuce are applied to multiple Asteraceae taxa; milk thistle, milk-thistle, milkthistle are more commonly applied to Silybum; English thistle, miner's-lettuce, miner's lettuce, miners' lettuce, miners lettuce, minerslettuce, minor's lettuce, compass-plant, compass plant, compassplant, wild opium, milkweed, milk-weed, milk weed are applied to taxa in multiple families
Noteswhen China is used as a proper name, upper case preferable
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