Lettuce Varieties and Types
of Lettuce

Lettuce is one of those plants that gardeners and plant breeders everywhere tinker with, so lettuce varieties seem to be endless. Salad-lovers of the world, rejoice!

There are 7 main Types of lettuce, and dozens of varieties within each type, so I’ll just describe each type, and mention a few favorite varieties. See Growing Lettuce for information on how to grow lettuce.




Looseleaf  |   Butterhead  |   Romaine (Cos)  |   Buttercrunch
Batavian  |   Heading  |   Chinese  |   Growing Lettuce



Looseleaf Lettuces

Looseleaf Lettuces are colorful, easy, and fast-growing lettuce varieties. The plants form open heads that allow you to harvest a few leaves at a time, or whole plants as needed.

Looseleaf lettuces go from seed to baby salads in 5 weeks, seed to salad in 7. Cut them off 1” above the ground with a pair of scissors, and looseleaf lettuce varieties will resprout in a couple weeks to give you a second cutting. See cut- and- come-again harvesting for more information.

Looseleaf Lettuce Varieties
(Click IMAGE to Enlarge)

Growing Looseleaf Lettuce—Red and Green Oakleaf

‘Red Oak Leaf’ and ‘Green Oak Leaf’ (50-55 days) are two classic leaf lettuces. Slower to bolt than other leaf lettuce varieties, they also stay tender longer and take longer to become bitter.

Buy 'Red Oak Leaf' Seeds icon

Growing Looseleaf Lettuce—‘Red Salad Bowl’ in a Window Box, Fall 2007

‘Red Salad Bowl’ (50 days, some frost tolerance) has loose, open heads of deep-red, frilly leaves. Good for early spring sowing.

Lettuce Varieties—‘Red Sails’ in a Window Box

‘Red Sails’ (52 days, slow-bolting, resists tipburn) has rouge-tinged green leaves, and resists bolting longer than other leaf lettuces. Doesn’t turn bitter till it forms a flower stalk.

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Growing Looseleaf Lettuce—‘Blushed Butter Oak’
‘Blushed Butter Oak’ (55 days) forms loose, open heads of rose-tinged, oak-shaped leaves.

Top of Page  |   Looseleaf  |   Butterhead  |   Romaine (Cos)
Buttercrunch  |   Batavian  |   Head Lettuce
Chinese Lettuce  |   Growing Lettuce



Butterhead Lettuces

Butterhead Lettuces form loose, open heads of melt-in-your mouth leaves. They thrive in the warm days of fall, and the cool days from spring to early summer.

Butterhead Lettuce Varieties
(Click IMAGE to Enlarge)

‘Merveille des Quatre Saisons’ (55-60 days)—also called ‘Continuity’ and ‘French Four Seasons’—is one of my favorite butterhead lettuce varieties. A French heirloom, it has green leaves tinged with red or bronze, and the leaves stay tender even when they’re bigger than your hand. Can be grown all year round in mild-winter gardens.

Growing Lettuce—‘Merveille des Quatre Saisons’, a.k.a ‘Continuity’
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‘Santoro’ (55-60 days) is a butterhead with heavier, thicker leaves. It’s great in a salad, but has enough substance to stand up to a sandwich. ‘Santoro’ takes longer to turn bitter and bolt than most butterhead varieties, and will sometimes give you a third cutting in cut- and- come-again harvesting.

Growing Lettuce—‘Santoro’
Buy 'Santoro' Seedsicon
‘Drunken Woman Frizzy Headed’ (Open Pollinated, 55 days) has pale green crinkled leaves tinged with rose or red (rose colors when grown in partial shade, red in sun). I had to try it because of the name, and I’m glad I did because it’s a beautiful, succulent leaf lettuce.
Growing Lettuce—‘Drunken Woman Frizzy Headed’
‘Speckles’ (50-55 days) has beautiful green leaves shot with red patches that make a great addition to any salad. It’s a cross between a green butterhead and Forellenschluss romaine, below.
Growing Lettuce—‘Speckles’
‘Blushed Butterhead’ (Open Pollinated, 50-55 days) forms loose, rose-tinged heads of soft, buttery leaves. One of the best butterhead lettuces I’ve grown.
Growing Lettuce—‘Blushed Butterhead’

‘Garden Babies’ (50 days) grow into perfect little domes of soft leaves. Great for growing in pots, window boxes, and vegetable container gardens.

 Lettuce Varieties—‘Garden Babies’

‘Flashy Butter Oak’ (54 days) forms loose, buttery heads of green, oakleaf-shaped leaves that are splashed with red, like ‘Speckles’ above. Slow to bolt and become bitter.

Lettuce Varieties—‘Flashy Butter Oak’

‘Skyphos’ (45-50 days) is one of the most beautiful lettuces I’ve grown. It has pale green leaves near the core, and shades of rose through the middle, deepening to red at the edges.

Lettuce Varieties—‘Skyphos’

‘Matchless’ (50 days) forms loose, delicate heads of soft green leaves.

Growing Lettuce—‘Matchless’
Buy 'Matchless' Seeds icon

‘Torenia’ (54 days) forms loose, buttery heads of light green, melt-in-your-mouth leaves.

'Torenia' Butterhead Lettuce in a SaladScape

Top of Page  |   Looseleaf  |   Butterhead  |   Romaine (Cos)
Buttercrunch  |   Batavian  |   Head Lettuce
Chinese Lettuce  |   Growing Lettuce



Cos (Romaine) Lettuce

'Breen', a Baby Red Romaine Lettuce Variety
'Breen', a Baby Red Romaine Lettuce Variety
© Steve Masley (Click IMAGE to Enlarge)

Cos (Romaine) Lettuces form open, upright heads of deeply colored leaves. The leaves have stronger flavor than looseleaf varieties, and crunchy midribs. As long as they get enough water, romaine lettuces can withstand some summer heat.

'Breen' (55 days) is a red "baby" romaine that grows 6-8" high, and is great for salad tables and window boxes.

‘Jericho’ (57 days) has beautiful, deep-green leaves, and stays sweet even hot summer weather. Resistant to tip burn and lettuce mosaic virus.

‘Flashy Trout Back’ (55 days) is an Austrian heirloom romaine, also known as ‘Forellenschluss’ romaine. It has striking green leaves shot with red patches, similar to ‘Speckles’ butterhead above) and is very tender for a romaine. Beautiful and delicious in any salad. Moderate bolt resistance.


Top of Page  |   Looseleaf  |   Butterhead  |   Romaine (Cos)
Buttercrunch  |   Batavian  |   Head Lettuce
Chinese Lettuce  |   Growing Lettuce


Cook's Garden

Buttercrunch Lettuce

Lettuce Varieties—‘Winter Density’
Lettuce Varieties—‘Winter Density’
© Steve Masley (Click IMAGE to Enlarge)

Buttercrunch Lettuces are crosses between butterhead and romaine varieties. They have a more upright structure, so fewer leaves are in contact with the soil when the weather turns cold, wet and dark. Buttercrunch lettuces are less subject to the leaf rots that can afflict butterhead lettuces in late fall.

‘Buttercrunch’ (Open Pollinated, 48 days) forms tight, compact green heads of fan-shaped leaves. Excellent bolt resistance. A good choice for growing lettuce in summer.

Buy 'Buttercrunch' Seeds icon

‘Winter Density’ (54 days) is a frost-tolerant bibb-romaine (buttercrunch-style) that has thick, dark-green leaves in a vertical rosette.

Buy 'Winter Density' Seeds icon


Top of Page  |   Looseleaf  |   Butterhead  |   Romaine (Cos)
Buttercrunch  |   Batavian  |   Head Lettuce
Chinese Lettuce  |   Growing Lettuce


Batavian Lettuces

Batavian Lettuces, also known as Summer Crisp Lettuces have thick, crunchy leaves that hold better in the heat than other varieties. Batavian lettuces are heavier feeders than butterheads, looseleaf, and cos varieties, so boost the organic fertilizers.

‘Nevada’ (48 days) produces heavy yields of crisp green leaves in spring and summer.

Buy 'Nevada' Seeds icon

‘Mottistone’ (55 days) is a red-speckled summer crisp lettuce, similar to ‘Speckles’.


Top of Page  |   Looseleaf  |   Butterhead  |   Romaine (Cos)
Buttercrunch  |   Batavian  |   Head Lettuce
Chinese Lettuce  |   Growing Lettuce


Heading Lettuces (Crisphead Lettuces)

Heading Lettuces roll their leaves into heads at maturity, like cabbages. These are the standard Iceberg lettuces, prized for their disease resistance and ability to stand against summer heat without turning bitter, and known for their insipid, watery crunch. I don’t know how conventional farmers manage to make them so tasteless—heading lettuces grown organically have flavor, not just crunch.

‘Summertime’ (48 days) has medium-green heads with dark wrapper leaves.

‘Red Iceberg’ (50 days) has rouge-tinged leaves that form tight, medium-sized heads.


Top of Page  |   Looseleaf  |   Butterhead  |   Romaine (Cos)
Buttercrunch  |   Batavian  |   Head Lettuce
Chinese Lettuce  |   Growing Lettuce


Chinese Lettuces

Chinese Lettuces are stiff, strong-flavored varieties. They’re grown for their stalks as well as their leaves, and their slight bitterness is muted in stir-fries and soups.

‘Celtuce’ is a celery-flavored variety.


Top of Lettuce Varieties Page  |   Looseleaf  |   Butterhead
Romaine (Cos)  |   Buttercrunch  |   Batavian  |   Head Lettuce
Chinese Lettuce  |   Growing Lettuce  |   Alphabetical List of Vegetables

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