If only the wild lettuce plant in his front yard bore produce, these would indeed be salad days for Jackson Baur of Lawrence.
Baur has a 10-foot high wild lettuce plant growing among his shrubbery at 6 Westwood Rd. He said he first noticed the plant earlier this summer when it was about 3 feet tall.
"It was in the bushes, and I was not in the mood to cut it out," Baur said.
He paid no attention to the plant during a hot spell, he said, keeping the shades drawn in the room next to the plant. When the temperature cooled off and Baur raised the shades, the first thing he noticed was that the plant had reached 6 feet in height.
"I thought, `That's strange, I'll let it go,'" he said.
Letting it go meant letting it grow. The plant zoomed by the 8-foot mark and then bloomed after it reached 10 feet.
Craig Freeman, assistant director of the R.L. McGregor Herbarium at Kansas University, said he'll be able to tell whether the plant is a Western or Canada variety once the blooms fully open. He said the plant is native to Kansas but is much taller than the typical 6-foot plants he has seen.
Seeds of the wild lettuce plant are spread much like dandelion seeds, Freeman said.
Although related to head lettuce plants, Freeman said this variety was "a flowering plant with weedy tendencies." Therefore, Baur will not be supplying local salad bars with lettuce from his statuesque plant.
"It's just a curiosity," Baur said.