Thursday, March 28, 2013

Miner's Lettuce

Early Miner's Lettuce in Tilden Park—February
Miner's lettuce, the tender, flowering wild green, shoots up in back of my Berkeley house, blanketing the hillside in early spring. My husband Dean, an East Bay native, pointed it out to me some time ago and explained that this plant, Claytonia Perfoliata, was nicknamed during the  California gold rush when the miners indulged in the soft, velvety leaves to  prevent scurvy while panning for gold. It's a great source of vitamin C. Other forms of the plant kept the British in greens during WWII.  I too have enjoyed the crisp yet buttery texture of this leafy plant on bike rides and hikes in the Berkeley hills when hunger struck. A few leaves can revive me and in minutes quell all hunger pangs or low blood sugar. And munching wild, native greens makes for a refreshing break.

Same patch in Tilden Park in mid-March

I gather clumps of the  delicate flowering leaves to add to salads. They are surprisingly hardy and can withstand a trip home in my bike bag. The growing season lasts from February to May, when they completely disappear. They make a delicious addition to other cultivated lettuces and veggies. Lately I have also seen them for sale in the Berkeley and San Rafael farmers' markets, but I enjoy foraging, as there is such an abundant supply near my house.
Salad of beets, spinach and flowering miner's lettuce

I discovered this must-have shirt on the Web, available in black or white from Cafe Press. Who could resist?
Miner's Lettuce T-Shirt

1 comment:

  1. Looks like spring has sprung. Beautiful and informative post, plus I can hardly wait for my miner's lettuce tee to arrive.
    Keep up the good work, you big-bonus babe!