Miner’s Lettuce

John Bidwell probably discovered miner’s lettuce the first winter that he lived in California. After a steady diet of beef, beans, and game, anything green would be welcomed for the sake of variety, if nothing else.

Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) is a short, bright green annual plant with fleshy leaves, with a texture like spinach. It grows in the wintertime in the Central Valley and along the Pacific Coast, and in early spring in the Sierra foothills. The gold rush miners ate it to augment their limited diet, and to prevent scurvy.

In January and February miner’s lettuce springs up all over the patch of ground between our front lawn and the road. We have quite a spread of it. I pick it to put in salads, and my grand-daughters like it to snack on when they are playing at grandma’s place. When I nibble on it, I like to think of the connection to the forty-niners, and the native Californians who also enjoyed this springtime delicacy.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s