Lettuce History

Lettuce History

  • The recorded history of cultivated lettuce or Lactuca sativa L reveals that Ancient Egypt was the first cultivator of this vegetable.  The IV Dynasty of Ancient Egypt that existed in around 2500BCE is clearly mentioned in lettuce history. Lettuce was represented in Egyptians’ tomb paintings, especially the early and middle Dynasty paintings.  Late dynasties symbolized lettuces in tomb paintings so stylishly, yet hazily, making it hard to recognize them. 
  • Though unrecorded in history, a few scholars think that lettuces may have been grown in the Mediterranean region and Asia before the Ancient Egyptians ever knew it.  The vegetable grew wildly as a weed.
  • Lettuce is believed to have arrived in Western Europe in as early as the 15th century. Varieties mentioned include the butterhead, crisphead, and Latin.
  • China received its first lettuces in the 5th century. The Chinese people grew the stem variety, which is eaten only in its cooked form. 
  • Lettuce seeds may have been brought to the New World in around 1494 by the famous and legendary Voyager, Christopher Colombus, during his second trip to America. True cultivation of the vegetable did not start until 1600s though when John Winthrop Jr. introduced some lettuce seeds to America from England.
  • Lettuces were very popular among the Ancient Romans and Greeks. They existed in a variety of forms that had either red or green leaves.
  • In 1941, the last phase in the propagation of lettuce was made when the Great Lakes iceberg lettuce was released. Usually a larger and tougher vegetable, compared to the crisphead, the Great Lake was developed first in Europe among lettuces of Batavia variety.