Asteraceae: an herbaceous perennial to 60cm. Found rocky or other dry places, especially on calcareous soils. The flowers are violet-blue, with a size of 30–40mm. The flowering period lasts from April through August, with the seeds ripening from July until September. This plant is glabrous, the stems is erect and branched, leaves are greyish-green. Native to most of central and southern Europe.
The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. The leaves are often blanched to reduce any bitterness. They are fairly acceptable raw in salads (even without being blanched), especially in late winter and spring when the flavour is quite mild. The leaves do become much more bitter in the summer, however, especially as the plant comes into flower.
The whole plant is rich in a milky sap that flows freely from any wounds. The sap contains 'lactucarium', which is used in medicine for its anodyne, antispasmodic, digestive, diuretic, hypnotic, narcotic and sedative properties.
Surface sow seeds in April in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Prefers a light well-drained sandy loam and a sunny position. Plants are hardy to about -25°C.