Miner's Lettuce - Claytonia perfoliata

Main features

  • Young leaves resembling snakes' heads grow from a basal rosette

  • The flowers appear as though they emerge through a single almost circular leaf

  • The small flowers are white

  • Found on disturbed ground, gardens, parks, waste ground and dunes 

  • Season is spring to autumn

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Miner's Lettuce - Claytonia perfoliata

Edible plant - novice

Other common names: Winter Purslane, Indian Purslane, Spring Beauty

 

Scientific name meaning: Clayton is arrived from the name of a botanists in the 1600s - John Clayton. Perfoliata comes from Latin. "Per" means "through" and foliata, refers to the foliage. It is a reference to the flowers passing through the foliage

Season Spring to Autumn

Habitat - where will I find it? A native of North America, it was introduced to Britain in 1794. It has since naturalised and can be found on disturbed ground, gardens, parks, waste ground and dunes. It likes sandy soils, and will grow in dry or moist conditions

Description - what does it look like? The young leaves of Miner's Lettuce emerge from a basal rosette and resemble a snake's head in shape. It is most distinctive when in flower as the flowers appear to emerge through the middle of almost circular leaves on the flower stalk. This circular leaf is actually two fused leaves.

The flowers themselves are small and white 

Possible lookalikes Miner's Lettuce is very distinctive in flower, but could possibly be confused with Spurge/Euphorbia. However, the leaf through which the flower of Miner's Lettuce goes through, does not have any notches or splits. In addition, Spurge/Euphorbia has green-yellow flowers, whereas Miner's Lettuce has white flowers

Use as a food Can be eaten raw or cooked. It has a mild taste as a salad leaf, but can get a little slimy when cooked

Use in herbal medicine Has been used as a diuretic and laxative, and to help with rheumatism
If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Hazards Miner's Lettuce is not known by the author to be toxic

Importance to other species The flowers provide a source of nectar for pollinators

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!