Miner's lettuce

Claytonia perfoliata


Miner's lettuce

Color: White, pinkish

Common name: Miner's lettuce

Latin name: Claytonia perfoliata


Height: highly variable

Description: Tiny cluster of flowers projecting through a rounded leaf. Flower: sepals 1.5–5 mm; petals 2–6 mm.

Leaf: At or near the base 1–25 cm, disk-like, < 10 cm diam, round or squarish (or free on 1 side). The top leaves are shiny, dark green and sometimes succulent.

Range: California Floristic Province, Great Basin Floristic Province, Mojave Desert

Habitat: Vernally moist, often shady or disturbed sites on the edges of the desert on north slopes.

Elevation: < 2000 m.

Flowering time: Highly variable

Notes: Photographed May 6, 2006 near Lake Isabella, Kern County, Calif. A dicot, is a common annual herb that is native to California and is also found outside of California, but is confined to western North America. Distribution outside California: to British Columbia, Montana, C. America. Highly variable; subspp. difficult to determine because of environmental plasticity. With early miner's diets consisting of mostly beans and bacon, miner's lettuce was a welcome "green" supplement eaten raw or cooked.

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Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

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