Saturday, February 21, 2009

Miner's Lettuce

I walked up the hill to the park with a group of preschool children yesterday. One of the older girls recognized miners lettuce...and before long the children were having a in this video. I think that the novelty of being able to eat something while on our walk was so intriguing to some of the children...that even some of the most finicky children decided to eat. They joined the ranks of the miners in California who reportedly ate it to prevent scurvy...and the American Indians who ate it...well...because you can!

Miner's Lettuce, Claytonia, or Winter Purslane is one of those plants that you could walk by for years and never really notice it...and then when you do learn to identify will see it all over. It is hard to hike anywhere in California in the Spring without coming across it. In some places it is so blankets the landscape. It appears first in the sunlit areas, but the best stands are under shade. As the days get hotter, the leaves turn a deep red color as they dry out. Once you get to know it, you will begin to notice the first shoots as early as December, soon after the first heavy rains.

There is also a narrow leaf version of miners lettuce.

You don't have to just forage for could plant it too! Here is another supplier. Some like to plant it is one of the most (or perhaps THE most) cold tolerant of the salad greens. It's downside is that it is not drought tolerant. Personally I'd rather pick it up for free without having to tend it...and use my ground for things that don't grow in the I have a limited amount of space to grow.

You can eat the entire and all. To me the flavor and texture is much like Spinach. It is often eaten raw as a salad green...or can be boiled like Spinach. I snipped some today and gave some to a lady and she did not care for it...saying it was too "earthy". Some will gobble it down raw and love it...and others would need to douse it with some dressing or cook it to make it more palatable. Some just mix it with other salad greens so that the "earthy" taste is not overpowering.

Here is some great info on Miner's Lettuce. How to identify it...vitamins it contains...and even an idea of how to drink it in a smoothie.


  1. Do you know if it will grow in Texas? (I'm a salad-freak!)


  2. Yes! It does grow in Texas. Here is a great blog on edibles in your area...