Miner’s Lettuce

Claytonia perfoliata


BASICS & HOW-TO

CULINARY INFO

MORE

BASICS & HOW-TO

FORAGED FROM THE WILD; FARMERS MARKETS

Miner’s lettuce can be fairly common wild food, and in ideal habitats it can be almost overwhelmingly common. It’s especially common in moist, shady areas, often near the bases of trees or in shady groves. Wild miner’s lettuce can be found west of the Rockies in temperate areas, and is especially common in Northern California. In Western Europe and pockets of Eastern North America (where the species has been introduced and naturalized), it can be found in similar habitats.

Farmers markets will occasionally carry miner’s lettuce (especially if a marketer specializes in greens or wild foods). It’s worth noting that these will be most likely be picked form the wild, though they can be cultivated with ease.

Identifying Miner’s Lettuce

Miner’s lettuce has a distinctive growth habit, and an especially easy to spot combination of flower and leaf. The youngest leaves, which grow at the base of the plant and are first to emerge in the spring, are shaped like small, rounded spades. After these leaves grow, the more distinctive ‘rosette’ leaves begin growing. These leaves are actually two fused leaves that grow together to form a small round bowl-like leaf. In the center of the bowl, a tiny cluster of white flowers grows. This gives the unusual impression that the flowers grow from the center of a large round leaf.

The plant itself emerges from the ground very early in the spring and grows quickly, often forming large carpeted areas of greenery. The leaves often begin to turn red and start to dry out later in the season when the weather warms and the sun becomes hotter during the day.

There are actually several other related members of the genus Claytonia that look extremely similar to miner’s lettuce, and many of these can be found in various parts of North and Central America. Fortunately, they are also edible and can be considered interchangeable from a culinary standpoint.



CULINARY INFO

Raw miner’s lettuce has a mild, slightly sweet green taste, rather like baby spinach.  When cooked, its flavour is likewise similar to spinach.  The flavour is rather mild in general.


MORE INFO

Nettles compare favourably to other leafy greens in terms of nutrition.  They’re low in calories and fat, and moderately high in Vitamins A and C.



RECIPES

Miner’s Lettuce and Mizuna Salad with Rhubarb Vinaigrette