MINER’S LETTUCE -Claytonia perfoliata
Miner’s lettuce is a fleshy hairless annual. It is a slender taproot, that can grow up to 16 inches in height. The leaves are a slight oval basil rosette to triangular, growing on long petioles. It has two stems that fuse into a round disk below a small white to pinkish flower, and they bloom from January to July. The petals are notched with an oval seed pod that has a three valved opening from the tip, and the seeds are black and shiny, similar to a poppy or mullein seed.
WHERE FOUND, miners lettuce is found in the moist shady places of the forest, and disturbed sites, as long as it is shady and cool they will be sweet. If they are in the hot sun, they will be bitter. Their range is California to B.C. they can be highly variable in size and leaf shape depending on the region in which they are found.
Miner’s lettuce is found in the wild more often than it is cultivated. Miners Lettuce is crisp with a sweet flavor and is used in both fresh and cooked applications.
USES; The Shoshone applied a minors leaf poultice for syphilis and rheumatism. This plant was also used to soothe sore eyes and improve vision. It is used as a laxative, for cuts, as a diuretic, and even as an aperitif. Its stems and leaves placed on cuts after the blood is washed away help speed healing. Miners Lettuce has been used as an antioxidant, for heart disease, and as a potherb. This herb is well suited for both raw and cooked applications such as steaming, boiling, stir-frying or sautéing and is great in salads.
The flowers, leaves, and stems are all edible and can be cooked with other delicate flavors. The leaves will keep 3-4 days when stored in a sealed container with a damp paper towel in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
MINERS LETTUCE CONTAINS; iron, beta carotene, it has a high content of vitamin C, Omega 3, and protein.
ACTIONS; antioxidant, anti-rheumatic, laxative, antiseptic, prevents scurvy, blood purifier, spring tonic.
Miner’s lettuce gets its name from California during the Gold Rush. The miners needed a source of vitamin C. The gold miners quickly discovered from the Native Americans that Miner’s lettuce could be consumed both raw or cooked to prevent scurvy.
Today Miner’s lettuce is used as a source of food for animals. In the wild it is a grazing source for gophers, flocking birds, quail, and doves. Miner’s lettuce is used as a spring tonic to cleanse the body. It is a purifying green that fortifies and filters out blood and lymph systems and is full of omega 3.
The Chlorophyll it contains is an antioxidant-rich nutrient and the omega 3, acts as an anti-inflammatory that counteracts the pro-inflammatory effects of LA omega-6 fats and their derived oils we get in so many other foods.
I collect it and use it in salads, it has a very nice taste to it. I also use it as a tonic. To make a tonic stuff a clear jar full of the herb and fill with water and leave it in the sun to warm for the day. Then strain and refrigerate and drink as often as you like. It is a great way to get extra vitamins and clean up your system.
When collecting Miners Lettuce in the wild I leave some of the plants behind and use scissors to cut it rather than pulling up the roots. I find this plant to be one of the more beautiful plants in the forests and cheerful to look at and really enjoy the bounty this plant has to offer.