Miners Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
aka ‘Spring Beauty’, ‘Winter Purslane’ (related closley to it’s Summer relative Purslane), and ‘Poor Man’s Lettuce’.
This wild beauty is taking over my garden at the moment, much to my delight as it graces our lunch & dinner table in abundance, providing fresh green color, crunch & nutrition.
The name "Miner's Lettuce” comes from California, where back in the mid 1840's during the gold rush, the miners found an abundance of it growing in the foothills where they were mining. It became a highly valued food source for them given the lack of fresh greens and uncertain food supply in the often rapidly established towns. It was prized by the miners for it's nutritional values, especially Vitamin C to prevent scurvy.
Miners Lettuce is a winter staple that grows abundantly & wildly during the wet & cold season. This plant self seeds prolifically and once it’s in the garden/a wild patch, it will pop up every winter, year after year, providing salad greens all winter long.
This is a really delicious salad green, soft yet crunchy & juicy, making an excellent winter lettuce substitute. Use it just like lettuce, in salads. You can cook it, but it wilts and looses it’s beautiful, fresh qualities. The above ground parts of the plant are edible.
Miners lettuce is a great source of Vitamins A & C, contains iron, beta-carotene, is high in chlorophyll, & full of antioxidant-rich nutrients. Apparently, every 100 grams of miner's lettuce contains 33.3% of the daily recommendation for vitamin C, 22% the vitamin A, and 10% of the iron.
The leaves are mildly laxative and were used by the Native Americans for this purpose. The leaves can be used to cleanse the body / as a Spring detox due to it’s diuretic properties. It can filter the blood & lymph systems, whilst the antioxidant rich nutrients detoxify the liver and help to eliminate environmental toxins and heavy metals from the body. You might like to add Miners lettuce to a smoothie/fresh juice for this purpose.
Miners lettuce can also be made into a poultice and applied to rheumatic joints. The juice from the stems can be used to treat eye infections.
Miners Lettuce features in my Winter Foraging Guide, which can be downloaded under 'Foraging Guides'. Lots more detailed information, photos, comprehensive ID, nutritional + medicinal properties, how to prepare, recipes, folklore & history.