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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include: Oriental lettuce, Chinese lettuce, Pointed leaf lettuce, Sword lettuce, Yu Mai Tsai, Youmaicai, A-Tsai, A-Choy, A Choi, Sword Choy

Latin Name:  Lactuca sativa (also L. sativa longifolia)

Plant Family: Asteraceae

Close Relatives: Lettuce

Uses and Markets: Culinary: young, crisp greens are used in salads, stir fries, soups or stews.  Seed can be sprouted and used in salads or on sandwiches.  Oriental lettuce is used in Taiwanese and Chinese cuisines.

Oriental lettuce is similar to leaf lettuce. This photo was taken at the marketable stage, 40 days after seeding.
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Transplant or sow from seed when risk of frost is low, continuing every 2-3 weeks to ensure a continuous supply of young leaves.

Propagation method

Seeds,  transplants.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:

April onwards.

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

22-30 cm

Between row spacing

30-40 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions.  Ontario fertility recommendations for lettuce, a close relative, can be found in the OMAFRA Vegetable Production Recommendations, and would be a good starting point.   Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Light, sandy loam, well drained soil, or muck.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit


Optimal Temperature Range


Temperature sensitivity

Frost sensitive.  Hot temperatures will cause bolting and bitterness in the leaves.

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation required under normal Ontario conditions.

Days to harvest

85 days

Specialized equipment


Harvest Scheduling

Single harvest. Continuous harvests are possible from successive plantings.

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Hand harvest

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes

Harvest during cooler parts of the day to reduce moisture loss and cooling costs. Remove field heat as soon as possible after harvest.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing

Vacuum cooling or hydrocooling can help maintain a fresh appearance.

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): 85-100%

Temperature: N/A

Duration: 15-20 days

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates: None

Diseases: Downy mildew

Other: None

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: Aphids, Cutworms, Tarnished Plant Bug, Aster Leafhopper, Pea Leafminer, Cabbage Looper

Diseases: Damping off, Botrytis Grey Mould, Sclerotinia White Mould, Septoria Leaf Spot, Rhizoctonia Bottom Rot, Corky Root Rot, Bacterial Wilt, Dry Leaf Spot, Lettuce Mosaic Virus and Aster Yellows, Nematodes

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions.


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: downy mildew. All pests of conventional lettuce are likely to attack oriental lettuce. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is in Crop Group 4: Leafy Vegetables (Except Brassica vegetables) Group and subgroup 4A: Leafy Greens Subgroup. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist. For pest control products registered on Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) refer to OMAFRA Publication 838.

The initial signs of lettuce downy mildew on celtuce.
Additional Notes


Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile

  1. Elford, E., Filotas, M., Todd, J., and S. Westerveld. 2009. Non-traditional crops demonstration garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  1. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. 2010. Vegetable Production Recommendations. Publication 363, Queen’s Printer for Ontario, Toronto.