Miners lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) is also called winter purslane, Indian lettuce, spring beauty and miners green, which are all names that reveal a bit about this amazing and succulent wild green superfood.
Here in California gold rush territories, it is known as “miner’s” lettuce which historically refers to the miner’s who came across this wild plant growing in large numbers throughout the foothills and various mining locations. It became a much valued food source that provided nourishment during times when other food supplies were running low or not available.
Back in the mid 1840’s times were hard and life was a desperate struggle for survival. Those who were smart viewed this highly nutritious green as a gift from the earth to be consumed for its life sustaining nutrients, including Vitamin C which helped to prevent scurvy for these gold mining immigrants.
Miners green tends to grow prolifically in late winter to mid spring between cool springtime temp’s of 60-80 degrees, particularly in partly shaded regions in woodland areas.
Being an annual herb that reseeds itself every year, it can grow in large numbers with prolific patches that can take up entire hillsides when the weather conditions are optimal.
Once you spot miners green growing wild on an untamed forested slope, you know you can come back and visit year after year to enjoy bags of the lettuce free for the taking.
This is, of course, assuming that rainfall has been adequate and previous drought has not occurred that winter. Miners lettuce, like other spring greens such as chickweed, red clover and mallow, need a good amount of moisture in the soil in order to produce abundant and large leaves. If there is not a good amount of water to feed them, they tend to come up but are much smaller in size.
The lettuce can have a longer growing season depending on the location. It seems to do quite well for many months on the California coastline because of the cool, foggy summer conditions that emanate spring type weather further inland.
Miners Lettuce Benefits
Purifies the Blood and Lymph System
Spring is the traditional time of year to partake in cleansing rituals that involve some kind of fasting process. Many herbalists believe that these wild greens are offered during this time of year specifically to be gathered and used to cleanse the body.
Miners green is one of these purifying greens that helps to fortify and filter our blood and lymph systems when consumed.
Being high in chlorophyll, in addition to mentioned antioxidant-rich nutrients, like Vitamin C, the lettuce can be a great detoxifier, helping to eliminate environmental toxins and heavy metals stored in the liver.
Miner’s lettuce can be juiced for concentrated effects during a juice fast. Cleansing teas using liver herbs can also be ingested during this time to adjunct the benefits of this wild springtime cleanser.
Contains Omega Fatty Acids
Miners lettuce is closely related to the wild purslane plant. This is evident through its similar thick and succulent-type leaves. Purslane is known for its higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids which are prevalent in all green leafy vegetables to certain degrees. Although Claytonia perfoliata has never been officially tested for Omega-3’s in our research, we believe that more of this nutrient may be present because of its relationship to the purslane family.
Omega-3 fatty acids (or ALA) acts as an anti-inflammatory and helps to counteract the pro-inflammatory effects of LA Omega-6 fats and their derived oils. Our top recommended source of ALA is, without a doubt, dark green leafy vegetables. A health promoting diet should include large amounts of them on a regular basis. Miners lettuce can be a great source of wild ALA that can be foraged in the late winter to mid spring.