Local Forages: Miner's Lettuce

Local Forages

Commonly found wild & cultivated edible plants
to use in the kitchen

Featured plant:
Miner’s Lettuce 

(Claytonia perfoliata)


“A California child’s first trailside food, the mild, succulent leaves of this easily recognized shade-loving annual have a long tradition of being appreciated in the Golden State” – Judith Lowry

Miner’s Lettuce is a simple and delicious Local Forage.  It is easy to identify and harvest and can be eaten as you are walking by or be put into a sandwich or salad for their cool, refreshing flavor.  It prefers shady and moist areas, especially under oaks, where it can be harvested for months before going to flower and seed.  Common times to see the plant is from December through April.

Miner’s Lettuce has two leaves fused together with the stem and white flowers in the center.  They have a distinct look to them, looking like a circle or heart shape with a deep, smooth green color and little flowers or bulbs in the center.

The leaves are edible and easy enough to pluck at any time, and depending on the soil, their stalks are edible and quite sweet if they grow sturdy, about a ¼” in diameter, and become pink.  Once the flowers start to grow, the leaves start to get a slight bitterness to their flavor.  One way to prolong the plant’s flavor is by plucking the off the flowers to stunt that development.

The seeds ripen inside green calyces, simply open them and check to see if there are tiny, shiny, pods.  If there are, pluck the whole plant and store in a paper bag until the seeds fall to the bottom on their own.  Over a couple of weeks, the leaves will dry and can be removed and the seeds can be collected.

For the Garden:
Miner’s Lettuce does a great job on spreading on its own and can grow quite vigorously, making its way throughout your garden’s shady, moist areas.  Miner’s Lettuce is an option for an annual, edible ground cover for December through April.  It grows abundantly under oaks and may already be under any of yours or in your garden!

Happy Foraging and Gardening.

The details above were excerpted from:
California Foraging by Judith Larner Lowry