BLOG LETTUCES 072413 WED 029 - 200WThe PhyreKeeper Blog #0004 For Friday, 07/26/2013

The Phyre Dojo specializes in providing the most complete teaching & training in all of the world’s wood Phryction Phyre methods & techniques & beyond.


This blog thing is more work than I thought. Some might call me “perfectionist.” But, I do my best to go with my usual standard of “what is it that I would’ve wanted to see?” And, that in itself ends up being A LOT! In fact, the Hiden Denki Densho video series was just going to be only the world’s known methods and some techniques. It ends up turning into 70 DVD’s each more or less an hour long. Crazy. You’ll notice in this blog I have added many more pictures and photos than before.

So, the more work I put into things, obviously, the longer it takes. This week’s blog took two whole days to do. Meaning, I did nothing else except put together this page for two days. (Mind you, there’s no financial compensation for that time gone.) So, in order to balance out my life if I am to stay committed to doing this blog, it will require a compensating adjustment. I’m going to blog out twice a month on the 15th and 30th of every month instead of weekly. I don’t know about you, but I can’t spend two whole days worth of time on something… So, the next blog will be Thursday, August 15th 2013.


Now that I have committed to this blog, and because I have a “Scout” personality (Always be Prepared!) I can clearly foresee that it will be very difficult (impossible) to provide real photos of plants (and trees) for the PhyreHack section of this blog later in the coming years since we have four real seasons in New Jersey. Soon, the plants will be mature and dying and then – gone! So, I need to start taking photos of EVERYTHING I possibly can, when things are available (because I don’t want to steal other people’s pics off the internet. I want to always provide my own originals so you know I’m not cutting and pasting someone else’s work.)

For example, the Teasels are just about to flower. But, when will I ever get around to highlighting it as the PhyreHack? Next Spring? But, then I won’t be able to get photos again until it matures again. So, now I’m just carrying my camera around all the time. I’m just going to have to “strike while the iron is hot” whenever I see something, and then save it for later.

I just saw a very large and mature Hackelia Virginiana behind a guardrail on the way home from work on Rt. 31 North. It’s the biggest one I’ve seen so far. So, I’m going to have to “photo-capture” it now, and then later harvest it (if it’s still there in the Fall.)

Also, as I was reviewing and finishing up the video series, I realized I left an important (HD) Hand Drill plant out a whole section! Now, I have to go back, film, edit, subtitle, render, copy, upload, etc. a whole new Disc. Thank goodness it only involves one and not the rest of the series. Which reminds me…

I can’t believe I forgot to tell you I have a YOUTUBE Channel! Just search “phyredojo” (one word) on the YOUTUBE site. I have a few waiting there for you. But, in keeping with the theme of this blog’s PhyreHack, you’ll want to see Wild Lettuce in action as a (HD) Hand Drill.

(I don’t talk in this one. And, halfway through the video I crack the top section of the stalk while I’m spinning it and then cut it shorter on my band saw. I then go back to getting a coal. Good close-up in this one.)


Since last week I highlighted Thistles, to those who haven’t had the pleasure of looking up and researching “what the heck is this in my yard??” the look-alikes for the Thistles are most likely the Lettuces (Lactuca.)

There are only two of these on the Lau’s property compared to the three Thistles. In order to help with the height referencing within the photos I borrowed my daughter Alexa along with a 4 ft yellow level to do just that. The first one we’ll show off is the giant Wild Lettuce (Lactuca Canadensis.) I have to admit, the Wikipedia page is kind of weak. So, I’ll give you this one instead (especially because it has really good pics):

In our front yard next to the driveway is a “short” pair of Wild Lettuce. Behind Alexa is some shorter Mugworts and some Evening Primrose on the right. Again, the lever she holds is 48 inches tall.

The leaves are mostly smooth and hairless though there are some hairs, but not as much as some other Lettuces.

Here are the tops of the twin Lettuces. They are getting ready to go to flower. If you want to see an example of what the flower tops look like in bloom, go to the previous web link. The flowers then turn into “dandelion-like” seedheads.

But, here’s the one you really want to see. Here is one stand alone Wild Lettuce growing right next to the west side of our sunroom (Phyre Dojo worshop.) Just so you know, this isn’t finished growing taller. The tops still have to flower and seed.

Now, we’ll compare this one with the second Lettuce type, the Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca Serriola.)

There are a dozen of these growing on the house side of our driveway. They are currently in a state of going from flower to seed. Some flowers come out for a day and they go seedheads right away. Not the whole plant does this at the same time. Only parts of the tops do this and then another part of the tops does it the next day.

The flowers are small and yellow. I have been cutting and collecting the seedheads daily as they come out. My daughter was assisting me one day and she too noticed the milky sap from the plants is very sticky. She liked using the clippers while I held the bag.

One of the obvious identifiers of Prickly Lettuce is the hairs which are all along the entire edges of the leaves and on the bottom midrib. This photo was, unfortunately, not in focus enough.

Here is a Prickly Lettuce with the driveway as a background.

In the back, right next to the Wild Lettuce, grows a healthy, large Prickly Lettuce much taller than the ones in front. The Wild Lettuce is literally five feet to Alexa’s left by the sunroom. Here, she carefully poses in front of a background of some serious Poison Ivy growing up the side of the house…

Here is the Wild Lettuce (HD) Hand Drill I use in the Hiden Denki Densho video series. It now travels in in a bucket with 30 other (HD) Hand Drills used in the video as well. Each (HD) Hand Drill has not only the base I used to start the coal in the video attached to it, but also a photo of what it looks like in bloom and alive.

Above are some (HD) Hand Drills from my collection. The ones on top are the top ends of the giant Wild Lettuces. The bottoms are much larger in diameter, up to 2 inches across! The bottom bundle is Prickly Lettuces.

On the left are some the seedheads from the dozen or so Wild Lettuces that grew in my backyard last year. (This may clearly explain why only ONE grew in my backyard this year…) On the right are newly collected Prickly Lettuce seedheads with help from my daughter. We will be planting these in the garden we will create next year that I spoke about in the last blog.

Below are two PhotoGrabs from my Hiden Denki Densho series.

The photo above is taken from DISC # 006 in the (HD) Hand Drill Sections.

This photo is from DISC #062 in the PhyreHacking Section. Here I’m showing how to use the giant Wild Lettuce for the (PS) Phyre Saw Method. Remember, the entire video series is subtitled.

And, lastly, here are some mature and dead Wild Lettuce skeletons from 3 years ago that I have since put away. I use the bottom sections for the (PS) Phyre Saw method. See how tall they get?


For as long as I have been doing Phryction Phyre, the fact that New Jersey has four seasons has always reminded me of the “Tale of the Ants and the Grasshopper.” If you want to do (HD) Hand Drill with a certain kind of plant, for example, you had better scout it out (and not just one place, but many places. Because you’ll go back and it’ll be gone – mowed, poisoned, farmed under…), harvest them, prepare them, and properly store them… all so you can add to your skill knowledge and experience. If you don’t do this, you will find yourself literally have to wait until they come back, grow up and die. Literally, waiting for them to live out their life cycles before you can try them, or as I say, “Get to know them.” I tell everyone who will listen to my advice:


Keep Going.

Do you have some experience with Phryction PhyreKeeping and there is a method or material you want to see or try that no one else has been able to physically demonstrate for you. (And, someone just telling you about it doesn’t count.) Email me!

If there is someone you know who would want to know how to do or experience Phryction PhyreKeeping for themselves?
Tell them to go to

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Phyre Dojo – where training in all of the world’s Phryction PhyreKeeping Methods… is ONLY the beginning!

Because everything else is just “friction fire.”


Joe Lau, RN, AE-C