There are six commonly recognized Cultivar Groups of lettuce which are ordered here by head formation and leaf structure; there are hundreds of cultivars of lettuce selected for leaf shape and color, as well as extended field and shelf life, within each of these Cultivar Groups:
* Butterhead (L. sativa var. capitata) forms loose heads. Its leaves have a buttery texture. Butterhead cultivars are most popular in Europe. Popular varieties include Boston, Bibb, Buttercrunch, and Tom Thumb.
* Chinese lettuce (L. sativa var. asparagina) types generally have long, sword-shaped, non-head-forming leaves, with a bitter and robust flavor unlike Western types, for use in stir-fried dishes and stews. Chinese lettuce cultivars are divided into “stem-use” types (called celtuce in English), and “leaf-use” types such as youmaicai or shengcai, respectively.
* Crisphead, also called Iceberg, forms tight, dense heads that resemble cabbage. They are generally the mildest of the lettuces, valued more for their crunchy texture than for flavour. Cultivars of iceberg lettuce are the most familiar lettuces in the USA. The name Iceberg refers to the crisp, cold, clean characteristics of the leaves.
* Looseleaf (L. sativa var. crispa) has tender, delicate, and mildly flavoured leaves. This group includes oak leaf and lollo rosso lettuces.
* Romaine (L. sativa var. romana), also called Cos, grows in a long head of sturdy leaves with a firm rib down the center. Unlike most lettuces, it is tolerant of heat.
* Summer Crisp, also called Batavian, forms moderately dense heads with a crunchy texture. This type is intermediate between iceberg and looseleaf types.
1 head lettuce photo