Saturday, March 7, 2009

Miner's Lettuce


Our recent spate of cool rain successfully conjured secret gardens of Miner's Lettuce, tucked away where no one will notice it (next to the Odd Fellows building). This native annual herb has disk shaped leaves around tiny clusters of white flowers. The gold miners of the 1850s near Sacramento were said to have eaten these as an early season source of vitamin C, to prevent scurvy. It seems I seldom see them growing wild, except along urban margins like this, and even then only in forgotten spots where someone hasn't "cleaned up the weeds".

8 comments:

Dina said...

I loved learning about miner's lettuce. What an unusual-looking plant and name and history.

Saretta said...

Love that dense vegetation! Have you ever tried the miner's lettuce yourself? And why not do a post on the Odd Fellows? Do they exist outside of northern CA? We had them in Colusa, but I've never heard of them elsewhere.

Amy at Woza Books said...

I can't believe you posted that pic today! Ron and I walked on Mt. Tam yesterday evening and saw tons of miner's lettuce! Haven't seen any in awhile. And now it's following me around.

Afyonkarahisar said...

Is it that the wild plants that appear in the image?

Joe Cottonwood said...

Gourmet note: The leaves of Miner's Lettuce are wonderful, but you should pick them before they flower.

They grow all over La Honda.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I always pick a little and eat it every year, just for the heck of it. I soak it in cold water several times, and rinse and dry it well. I only do it out of tradition though, it tastes like grass to mee.

Petrea said...

It's a pretty plant. I'd give it a taste.

USelaine said...

Dina - I like all those things about it too.

Saretta - Yes, I tried it when there was a nice patch under an apple tree at my grandfather's place. I don't know anything about the Odd Fellows, but I think they are international, like a lot of those old fraternal organizations. The building isn't very photogenic. I have tried to capture it on occasion, but never got inspired to post it.

Amy - That's fantastic! It seems like there isn't as much any more, but I'm also more aware that it has a very limited season.

AKH - Yes! The tiny flowers with disk leaves.

Joe - Well, I say you are lucky to have them in abundance. I never actually ate the flowers, just tore off the leaves from the stem.

Ernie - They seem to have a spinach-like texture that's vaguely succulent, and a flavor to match. You may not be big on raw greens, I'm guessing. We always rinsed them off, because you never knew what may have taken a pee on them. Several times? I bow to your fastidiousness, dear gentleman.

Petrea - It would make a pretty garnish on a plate too.

Thanks everybody! Counting down to the end of this blog! Whew!