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Miner's Lettuce: A Delicious Salad Green that Can be Grown on a Winter's Windowsill?

Claytonia perfoliata

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If we were to rattle off all of the American publications listing Claytonia perfoliata (Miner's Lettuce) as a tasty and refreshing salad green, well, this would an extremely long article; the fact bears repeating only once. Sure, I'd like to pin a few other noteworthy facts about Claytonia perfoliata to the introduction...

Eh hem

  • Claytonia perfoliata contains so much vitamin C that miners would eat the plant to stave off scurvy during the Californian gold rush.
  • An unnamed tribe used to allow angry fire ants to bite C. perfoliata to impart a lemony, formic acid tang to the leaves [6]. 

You may be saying to yourself, "you can't just blow the whole story in the introduction," or "oh no, I left the stove on" 

These statements are both true (GO!), however, the fact of the blarticle has yet to be conveyed. Perhaps you would discover the secret if only you took a look... into the shadows. 

The narrator backs away and is slowly shrouded mystery and vegetation.

And I'm back. 

The fact of the blarticle is that Claytonia prefers growing in cool and shady environments. This sounds boring on the surface, however, having a delicious and nutritious lettuce that might grow indoors near a windowsill in the winter... that's potentially revolutionary. So, the final entry into this blarticle will contain a pictorial journey that will be updated daily. 

Will Claytonia perfoliata grow indoors? We will find out. 

Welcome to the vitaminy, nummy-nummy world of Miner's Lettuce. 

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Habitat

Claytonia perfoliata prefers shady forested areas, blooming in the late winter and early spring. 

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Culinary Uses

The leaves are succulent and taste of lettuce; they can be boiled, fried, used fresh as a salad, or put on sandwiches [4]. 

Ethnobotany

The SHOSHONI prepared a poultice of C. perfoliata to treat rheumatism and the THOMPSON used the plant as an eye wash to help those who use it to "seeing the right;" the MAHUNA used the plant's juice to restore the appetite; the COSTANOAN, KAWAIISU, MENDOCINO, CAHUILLA, DIEGUENO, LUISENO, MIWOK, MONTANA, and PAIUTE Native American tribes used the leaves and shoots raw or cooked as a vegetable [5]. AMERICAN MINERS ate the plant to stave off scurvy

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GAME TIME!

YUROK children would strip all of the leaves with the exception of the top one. Holding the bottom of the stem and allowing the top leaves to dangle, two contestants would attempt to hook the other's plant and pull it from his/her hand [5].

History

Claytonia perfoliata was officially found and recognized by western academia in 1796 when a man name Archibald Menzies submitted a specimen of Claytonia perfoliata to the Kew Garden at that time [3]. 

Nutrition

Miner's lettuce is apparently high in vitamin C.

Recipes

Nothing Found... coming soon. 

Weird Facts

To introduce a tangy bite to their Miner's Lettuce, an unidentified tribe of Native Americans reportedly agitated a hoard of fire-ants and allowed them to bite the plant; in the process, the ants injected small boluses of formic acid into the leaves that imparted a sour flavor [6]. 

Pictorial Journey

Day 1: Miner's Lettuce put in a K-Cup jar terrarium to sprout the seeds.

References

[1] Claytonia virginica L. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2018, from http://wisflora.herbarium.wisc.edu/taxa/index.php?taxon=3152

[2] Image retrieved from https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=CLPE

[3] Sims, J. (1811). Curtis's botanical magazine, or, Flower-garden displayed: in which the most ornamental foreign plants, cultivated in the open ground, the green-house, and the stove, are accurately represented in their natural colours .

[4] Peri, D. W. (1982). Ethnobotanical mitigation, Warm Springs Dam-Lake Sonoma, California. [San Francisco, Calif.?: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

[5] Moerman, D. E. (2010). Native American ethnobotany. Portland, Or.: Timber Press.

[6]  Rice, B. Marguerite. (1920). Popular studies of California wild flowers. San Francisco, Cal.: Upton bros. & Delzelle.

[7] This image was retrieved under Creative Commons licensure from here

[8] This image was retrieved under Creative Commons licensure from here. 

 

Kevin HealeyComment