The Backyard Larder

A place to explore and buy perennial vegetables and other food plants.

Reichardia picroides

I’ve been looking for Reichardia picroides, or Common Brighteyes, for a long time. It is a perennial salad vegetable that appeared on many of the lists I consulted when I first began to collect perennial vegetable plants – but one for which I couldn’t find seed or plants to buy anywhere. Then Twitter came to the rescue. @NaomiNome sent me seeds and I now have a short row of plants in a perennial salad bed I’ve been establishing. Thanks Naomi.

Reichardia picroides

Reichardia picroides

A straggly dandelion look-a-like to be sure – but it gets a good write up on the Plants for a Future database.

Mild and good. A pleasant agreeable flavour with a slight sweetness and very little fibre, it makes a very acceptable lettuce substitute and we use it in large quantities in salads. The older leaves seem to be even nicer, even when the plant is in flower.

I had a good taste today and I think that is a fair description.

The PFAF entry on Reichardia raises a question about hardiness, saying that it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°C, but noting that it will be more resilient to cold in better-drained and/or poorer soils. Chris Smith from Pennard Plants in Somerset has had plants in pots survive -10°C which is encouraging.

Another intriguing comment in the PFAF report is that Reichardia seems to be almost totally slug-proof. Slugs are not much of a problem to the grower of perennial vegetables anyway – but a slug-proof perennial ‘lettuce’ is still worthy of note!

Earlier this year I worried that I had the wrong plant as the leaves on mine seemed less crenated than those on images I found online.

Reichardia picroides leaves

But I think this is just natural variation. The distinctive heart-shaped bracts you can see in the photos of the flowers below are a defining feature of Reichardia picroides.

Bracts on Reichardia picroides

I collected lots of seed this year. So I hope to be able to offer plants again next spring.

2 comments on “Reichardia picroides”

    How strange, this plant doesn’t seem to have crossed the (language) borders of Flanders and the Netherlands, at least that’s what a quick google search tries to tell me. Perennial salad plants, especially the ones that taste mild, are always on my wishlist, since i’m not very good at growing the usual annual lettuces, except for lamb’s lettuce and miners lettuce, but they do it on their own.

    Reply

    Hardiness may be an issue Cindy. PFAF says down to between -5 and -10 deg C and has comments about best soil conditions for survival. I should have mentioned that – will add something later today.

    Reply

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