Miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
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Miner's lettuce, a native winter annual broadleaf plant, is part of a complex of species and subspecies with slightly varying characteristics. It is found throughout California (except for the lower desert areas) to about 6600 feet (2000 m). Miner’s lettuce inhabits natural plant communities, agricultural land, and urban areas, with a preference for cool, damp conditions. It dries up with the onset of hot spring weather. Although the leaves are sometimes cultivated or collected for salad greens, occasionally it accumulates soluble oxalates, which can be toxic when ingested..
Habitat Chaparral, oak, woodlands, forests, and coastal sage scrub, agronomic and vegetable crop fields, orchards, vineyards, gardens, yards, and other disturbed sites.
Cotyledons (seed leaves) are bright green, slightly succulent, linear and narrow, and broadest at the tip. The first true leaf and later leaves are narrowly to normally lance-shaped with bases that taper to the stalk. These leaves form a basal rosette. Miner's lettuce seedlings are distinguished from redmaids, which lack definite stalks and have somewhat broader and fleshier leaves.
The young plant is found as a basal rosette.
Mature plants have numerous erect to spreading, slender stems that branch from the base and reach up to 8 inches (20 cm) in length. Leaves are mostly basal, slightly succulent, hairless, and bright green. Leaf shape varies from football shaped to triangular-kidney shaped with rounded or pointy tips. The flower stalk appears to “grow through” a circular cuplike structure (bract) that looks like a leaf and surrounds the entire stem. Subspecies perfoliata has football to egg-diamond shaped leaves and subspecies mexicana has egg-diamond shaped to triangular-kidney-shaped leaves.
Flowers bloom from February through May. Five to forty white to pale pink flowers on slender down-curved stalks cluster above a circular to weakly squared, often cuplike, green structure (bract) that looks like a leaf and completely surrounds the stem.
Tiny, egg-shaped, green, open pods, 1/17 to 1/6 of an inch (1.5–4 mm) are enclosed by green petal-like sepals and contain two to six seeds.
Glossy, black seeds, about 1/26 to 1/8 of an inch (1 to 3 mm) in diameter, are oval to circular with a white appendage at the point of attachment.
Reproduces by seed.
Related or similar plants
- Redmaids, Calandrinia cilia