Miner’s Lettuce   

Miner’s lettuce, or Claytonia perfoliata, is a dark leafy green wild edible.  The common name comes from its widespread consumption by miners during the California gold rush years.  Here are some of the characteristics and benefits of miner’s lettuce that make it a valuable addition to anyone’s survival menu.

 

  • Miner’s lettuce is available from late winter through early summer. It will appear first in well-lit areas, but as temperatures rise, larger patches with larger leaves can be found in areas with partial shade.
  • Its unique leaf shape makes it easy to identify even for the beginning forager. Though sometimes they can be found with color variation from brownish green to purple.
  • It is high in vitamin C which can be difficult to come by in the wild during the cold season. Without it, one’s immune functions will decrease and one might even get scurvy, a condition where the teeth and bones weaken which can eventually lead to death if untreated.
  • While there is little scientific research to substantiate the claims, many herbalists believe miner’s lettuce to have beneficial effects on the blood and lymph systems and have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • The leaves can be eaten raw which will save time and energy. If you already have water boiling, they can be added to the water and boiled like spinach.
  • Miner’s lettuce can be found in large quantities, covering entire hillsides and providing all the greens one could need.

Dark leafy greens are a valuable part of a healthy diet even if one is not stranded in the wilderness, there is no need to wait for disaster to take advantage of the health benefits miner’s lettuce offers.  If you live in an area where miner’s lettuce grows, take note of where you notice it growing.  It is a vigorous self-seeding annual and will be back in same location for years to come.

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