Mycelis muralis

Mycelis muralis

Wall lettuce (Mycelis muralis (L.) Dumort.) Is a herbaceous species belonging to the Asteraceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Plantae Kingdom, Spermatophyta Superdivision, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Asteridae Subclass, Asterales Order, Asteraceae Family, Cichorioideae Subfamily, Cichorieae Tribe and therefore to the Genus Mycelis and to the Species M. muralis.
The terms are synonymous:
– Prenanthes muralis L. 1753;
– Lactuca muralis Fresen;
– Cicerbita muralis (L.) Wallr .;
– Phaenopus muralis (L.) Coss. & Germ .;

Etymology –
The term Mycelis is an ancient name of obscure and uncertain derivation.
The specific epithet muralis comes from murus muro: which lives on the walls, in reference to its habitat.

Geographical Distribution and Habitat –
Wall lettuce is a plant native to Europe but which has also spread to other areas of the world such as the Pacific Northwest and New England where it has invaded shady road edges, paths and deforested areas; in addition, this species naturalized in parts of Northern Ireland as early as 1913.
It is a species present in all regions of Italy.
Its habitat is that of the woods, in particular beech, rich in humus, of cool and shady places, also in limestone soils and walls, where it grows in the period of July-August between 200 and 1800 m. sl.m ..

Description –
Wall lettuce is a perennial, glabrous, milky herbaceous plant, 30 to 100 cm high.
The stem is erect, smooth and branched at the top, on which the leaves are placed which are carried by a winged peduncle that embraces the stem with two rounded lobes.
The leaves are green in color, with sometimes reddish shades, broad-lobed pennatifid, angular with the terminal one wider than the lateral ones; the upper leaves are lyre-shaped.
The flowers are hermaphrodites, which form 7-10 mm flower heads, collected in a branched, loose inflorescence, with the envelope of 5 equal bracts, and only 5 pale yellow ligulate flowers.
Pollination is entomophilic, operated by bees and flies and the flowering period between June and December.
The fruit is an achene (cipsela) with a dark-brown body, 2.5-3 mm in size, with an elliptical or obovate outline and about 13 ribs, 4 more marked than the others, slightly rough; short beak of about 0.5-1 mm and white pappus of 4-5 mm on the outside and 0.1-0, 2 mm on the inside.

Cultivation –
Wall lettuce is a spontaneous plant that grows well in shady and humid places. However, it can be reproduced from seed, taking care to choose slightly sunny, possibly north, and humid soils.

Uses and Traditions –
There are no known pharmaceutical properties and uses of Mycelis muralis while it is used in various parts for food use.
For this use, the tender leaves of this plant are collected, to consume them fresh in mixed salads or cooked in soups.
The recommended harvest period is from January to June where the used parts are the young and tender leaves, used just raw in salads or boiled in soups.

Method of Preparation –
In the kitchen the young leaves of this plant are used to prepare salads but also for other preparations or as a side dish.
Given its good taste, various recipes can also be prepared with bitter herbs.
A recipe used is that with tender leaves of Wall lettuce, crepe, lamb’s lettuce, wild rocket, some leaves of podagraria (Aegopodium podagraria) and wild lettuce (Lactuca serriola), oil, vinegar and salt.
The preparation is as follows: wash and chop the herbs, adding oil, vinegar and salt according to your taste. The mixture of herbs is an excellent “wild” base to enrich the salad with other ingredients.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for information purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; therefore, no responsibility is accepted for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.



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