Lactuca: An Exploration of Lettuce

Tuesday, May 1, 2018 to Thursday, May 31, 2018
Physiology House, Lyman Conservatory

This exhibit aims to explore the humble beginnings of what is now a ubiquitous salad green. Although once weedy and quite bitter, the lettuce of today grows worldwide and in many different forms, including romaine, butterhead, stem, and curled. The Lactuceae tribe includes more than 1,550 species, and efforts to identify where cultivated lettuce originated continues today. Once prized for oil production and as an aphrodisiac by the Egyptians, the purposes and attitudes towards lettuce have changed greatly throughout history. Ultimately, the story of lettuce depicts the multifaceted interactions between people and food.

This exhibit is curated by June Ahn ’18. June is a senior majoring in biology and minoring in landscape studies, with a focus in plants. She has worked at the Smith Botanic Garden since her sophomore year as an outdoor garden assistant, curatorial intern, and GIS liaison. June has also interned at the Kew Royal Botanic Garden in London, working with plant phylogeny, as well as the Greenberg Lab at the University of Chicago, studying plant pathogen interactions. After Smith, she will be pursuing a masters in Museum and Exhibition Studies at the University of Illinois Chicago. She hopes to continue working closely with botanic gardens and developing exhibits about plants.


lettuce growing in rows in a field