Lettuce is an annual plant of the daisy family, Asteraceae. It is most often grown as a leaf vegetable, but sometimes for its stem and seeds. Lettuce is most often used for salads, although it is also seen in other kinds of food.
Lettuce was originally farmed by the ancient Egyptians, who transformed it from a weed whose seeds were used to create oil into an important food crop raised for its succulent leaves and oil-rich seeds. Generally grown as a hardy annual, lettuce is easily cultivated, although it requires relatively low temperatures to prevent it from flowering quickly. It can be plagued by numerous nutrient deficiencies, as well as insect and mammal pests, and fungal and bacterial diseases. L. sativa crosses easily within the species and with some other species within the genus Lactuca. Although this trait can be a problem to home gardeners who attempt to save seeds, biologists have used it to broaden the gene pool of cultivated lettuce varieties. Lettuce is a rich source of vitamin K and vitamin A, and a moderate source of folate and iron.