Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center

Vegetable Research and Extension

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Winter Lettuce


Winter Lettuce Variety Trials




Lettuce Types

Lettuce Types

Lettuce varieties are classified into five groups depending on head formation and leaf qualities. These five groups are 1) Crisphead or Iceberg, 2) Summer Crisp, French Crisp or Batavian, 3) Butterhead, Boston or Bibb 4) Romaine or Cos and 5) Looseleaf, Leaf, Cutting or Bunching.

Crisphead or Iceberg

Photo of iceberg lettuce

Characterized by a tight firm head of crisp, light green leaves with a white, densely packed heart. This lettuce type is generally intolerant of hot summer conditions, and water or nutritional stress at any time of growth tends to result in premature bolting and poor growth. In summer, some varieties tend to develop slimy internal rotting. Grown for their crisp, sweet, juicy crunch most varieties take about 80 days to develop densely packed heads.

Common varieties

Lettuce D
Salinas 88 Supreme
Sun Devil

Summer Crisp, French Crisp or Batavian

Photo of French Crisp lettuce Cardinale
Variety: Cardinale

An intermediate between Crisphead and Looseleaf lettuce, this type tends to be a large lettuce. Most varieties are resistant to bolting and have good flavor. The outer leaves are thick and crisp and can be harvested as a looseleaf until the head starts to form. The heart is crisp, juicy and sweet with a slight nutty flavor. Varieties tend to mature in about 55 to 60 days.

Common varieties

Photo of lettuce Jack Ice
Jack Ice
Photo of lettuce Oscarde
Photo of lettuce Reine Des' glaces
Reine Des’ glaces


Butterhead, Boston or Bibb

Photo of Butterhead lettuce Victoria
Variety: Victoria

This is the most popular type of lettuce grown in Europe and one of the finest types. The name comes from the buttery feel and creamy color of the inside leaves. The outer leaves are large and ruffled, often loosely folded, and darker green or brownish in color. Butterhead varieties can be harvested by removing outer leaves or by harvesting the entire head. Butterhead varieties are easier to grow than Crispheads as they are more tolerant of soil and weather conditions. Varieties are also rarely bitter in flavor, are slow bolting, and mature in 55 to 65 days.

Common varieties

Photo of lettuce Blushed Butter Oak
Blushed Butter Oak
Photo of lettuce Carmona
Photo of lettuce Divina
Photo of lettuce Emerald Oak
Emerald Oak
Photo of lettuce Flashy Butter Oak
Flashy Butter Oak
Photo of lettuce Kweik
Photo of lettuce Pirat
Photo of lettuce Sanquine Ameliore
Sanguine Ameliore
Photo of lettuce Tom Thumb
Tom Thumb
Photo of lettuce Victoria
Photo of lettuce Yugoslavian Red
Yugoslavian Red

Brune d’Hiver
Butter Crunch
Deer Tongue
Diamond Gem
Marvel of Four Seasons
Miko Pirat


Romaine or Cos

Photo of Romaine lettuce Outredgeous
Variety: Outredgeous

The names for this type of lettuce are derived from its Mediterranean origin and are interchangeable. “Romaine” is a derivation of Roman, while “Cos” comes from Kos, the Greek island. Romaine-type lettuces are 8 – 10 inches tall, upright in form, with long tightly folded leaves that are spoon shaped with thick midribs. Outer leaves are medium-green in color while inner leaves are greenish-white. Outer leaves can be a bit tough, but the ribs are tender and crunchy. Varieties tend to mature in about 75 days.

Common varieties

Photo of lettuce Brown Golding
Brown Golding
Photo of lettuce De Morges Braun
De Morges Braun
Photo of lettuce Forencellus
Photo of lettuce Hyper Red Rumple
Hyper Red Rumple
Romaine Dark Green
Dark Green Romaine
Photo of lettuce Trout's Back
Trout’s Back
Photo of lettuce Winter Desity
Winter Density

Chaos Mix II, black
Chaos Mix II, white
Devils Tongue
Little Leprechaun
Mixed Chaos, black
Mixed Chaos, white
Nova F3, black
Nova F4, black
Nova F4, white
Phat Merlot, white
Redneck F2, black
Redneck F2, white



Looseleaf, Leaf, Cutting or Bunching

Photo of Looseleaf letttuce Austrian Greenleaf
Variety: Austrian Greenleaf

These are the easiest kind of lettuces to grow, and they form no heart or head, as the name indicates. They can be harvested leaf by leaf or by the whole plant. Leaves come in a wide variety of shapes and colors including thick, thin, savoyed, flat, red, green, frilled, cut, curled, wavy, crinkly and so on. There are some extremely frilly and decorative European varieties. The leaves are tender, delicate, and mild flavored, and plants are slow bolting throughout the summer. Varieties tend to mature in 30 – 55 days.

Common varieties

Photo of lettuce Austrian Greenleaf
Austrian Greenleaf
Photo of lettuce Bijou
Photo of lettuce Bronze Arrowhead
Bronze Arrowhead
Photo of lettuce Brunia
Photo of lettuce Cracoviensis
Photo of lettuce Fine Frilled
Fine Frilled
Photo of lettuce Gold Rush
Gold Rush
Photo of lettuce New Red Fire
New Red Fire
Photo of lettuce Oakleaf Redder Ruffled
Oakleaf Redder Ruffled
Photo of lettuce Oaky Red Splash
Oaky Red Splash
Photo of lettuce Simpson Elite
Simpson Elite

Merveille De Mai
Perilla Green
Perilla Red


Rindels S. 1994. Lettuce varieties. Horticulture and Home Pest News. Department of Horticulture, Iowa State University, Iowa.

Wechsler D. 1995. The Lettuces. Salad Gardens Gourmet Greens and Beyond. Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York. P 20-29.

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