Claytonia Perfoliata (Miner’s Lettuce, Winter Purslane, Indian Lettuce)
last week, the family went for a hike on the Land’s End trail around The California Palace of the Legion of Honor.
it is definitely one of the best urban hikes, and a one that, surprisingly, i had never been on. on our walk, i kept my eyes peeled for edibles. while i spotted several, today i thought i would feature one of my favorites…miner’s lettuce.
like the land’s end trail, miner’s lettuce is probably one that you’ve heard of, but maybe don’t know how to identify, or have never tried.
it’s common name is miner’s lettuce, because the 49er’s used it to combat scurvy, since it is high in vitamin C. they probably learned how to do this from the native americans (ohlone, pomo, among others), who’s use of the plant is well documented. as well as eating it like salad greens, indigenous peoples used the leaves for rheumatism, as a laxative (in tea) and for eyesight.
it is native to the pacific northwest, and grows prolifically. you’ve probably seen it dozens of times, and once you recognize it, you’ll see it everywhere and wonder how you hadn’t noticed it before.
HOW TO HARVEST
take your handy scissors out of your foraging bag, and snip off the leaves. remember to leave plenty of leaves (leave leaves?) so that the plant is not harmed, and to take only as much as you need.
the leaves! you may be able to eat the flowers…i don’t know why you couldn’t. but i wasn’t able to find any info yay or nay. when in doubt…leave it out (of your mouth!).
upper leaves surround the stem, with a white (sometimes pink) 5 petaled flower atop. leaves are slightly succulent, and described as “shiny” but i think they are “sparkley”.
CAN BE FOUND
in shady, damp areas. if you ever go hiking on mt. tam, there are virtual fields of it on the cataract trail. you can also mail order it for $54 for 2lbs. (lame. step outside your door and go on an adventure. connect with source, not the UPS).
shady and moist
WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?
any way you would use spinach. raw, sauteed, put in soup in the last few minutes. i found this fun video tutorial on miner’s lettuce, and they suggest using it in a green smoothy. (much of the info from this post is repeated, but i still enjoyed it):
think with your stomach! do not ingest wild plants unless you are sure you have identified them correctly, and are also willing to take responsibility for using yourself as a guinea pig. i am SO not responsible if you eat the wrong thing and get poopy pants, or die. you’re an adult, you can make your own choices.
(here are some other photos of the day)
this pic was a mistake. i was using jeff’s iphone to take photos, and this is often my expression when i use the dang thing. bewilderment and frustration.
mommy, daddy and the hat.
have a great weekend friends!!