Lettuce Seeds - Knowledgebase Question

San Antonio, TX
Question by kdown134
November 7, 1999
Hello! I am a fourth grade teacher in San Antonio. My science class is learning about plant reproduction and a question came up that I couldn't answer. The students realize that most fruits and vegetables have seeds which are surrounded by their own protective covering- the fruit. We couldn't figure out where the seed(s) of a head of lettuce would be. We would really appreciate your help.
San Antonio, TX

Answer from NGA
November 7, 1999


Yours is an interesting question and one that many people ponder over. When we plant lettuce seeds, we expect to harvest leaves in a few weeks. Because we prefer to eat young, tender leaves, we generally harvest when the plant is still immature. If lettuce plants are allowed to mature completely they will form a flowering stalk which emerges from the center of the plant. This stalk develops 10-25 individual flowers, and each flower will produce one seed.

When lettuce is grown under cool conditions, such as spring or autumn, it takes a long time for a flower stalk to develop. But lettuce growing in cool spring weather can suddenly 'bolt', or go to seed, when warmer summer weather arrives. Once a lettuce plant has developed a flower stalk the leaves become tough and bitter, as the plant puts all of its energy into producing seed.

Hope this answers your question!

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