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Loose-leaf lettuce belongs to the botanical aster family or sunflower family (bot.: Compositae or Asteraceae) and is a leaf vegetable. Loose-leaf lettuces are salad varieties that do not form heads. They can be harvested several times a year. To make this possible only the ripe outer leafs are harvested. For loose-leaf lettuce sold in stores or at markets the whole plant is cut, therefore making it impossible to harvest a second time.

Oak leaf lettuce is only harvested once. In Europe it is available as a field-grown lettuce from the beginning of Spring until the end of summmer. Its name derives from the shape of the lettuce's leafs. In shape and colour they remind of the leafs of oak trees. The only difference between red and green oak leaf lettuce is the pigment anthocyanin. Both varieties have delicate leafs and a nutty flavour. This flavour is accentuated with a vinaigrette that contains nut oil.

Red and Green Salad Bowl are a development of oak leaf lettuce. It can be harvested several times a year and has a delicate flavor. Its leaf shape is more divided and it bolts less readily.

The red Lollo Rosso or Lollo Rossa and the green Lollo Bianco or Lollo Bionda are also loose-leaf lettuce varieties and originate in Italy. Their leafs are very frilly and form a close rosette that almost looks like a head. When grown in greenhouses during wintertime the rosettes are not as close as field-grown Lollo Rosso during summertime. The closeness of the leafs depend on the amount of light the lettuce receives. Loose-leaf lettuces are often packed in foil. This way they keep their shape loose less water through evaporation.

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