Green Man Publishing

Miners Lettuce

Montia perfoliata

The plant got its common name because gold miners commonly ate it during the 1849 California gold rush. Before that event it was known as Indian Lettuce or Spanish Lettuce for similar reasons.

It is a weed of the west coast and I included it here, because it is a common spring weed in my garden.

Leafy greens: The mildly flavored leaves are a great base for a wild spring salad. They can also be used as a potherb, by steaming or boiling for 2 – 5 minutes. I most often add it to green drinks.

Cultivation: Miners Lettuce is only considered to be a weed by people who don’t eat it. It is good enough to have been cultivated as a salad plant in European kitchen gardens. It is easily grown from seed, in rich garden soil and thrives in full sun or part shade. It prefers cool moist weather and dies off in hot summer weather (it is a winter/spring annual in most of California). It is usually only necessary to plant it once, as it self-sows freely and will perpetuate itself.

Related species: All other Montia species are edible. The best include:

M. cordifolia – Broad Leaved Montia

M. parviflora – Little Leaf Montia

M. sibirica – Siberian Miners Lettuce

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