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Indian Lettuce (Miners Lettuce)

Pechanga Cultural Center 03/08/2010

General Information

Common Name(s): Miner's lettuce
Family Name: Portulacaceae
Genus: Claytonia (syn. Montia)
Species: perfoliata
Indigenous Name: Luiseno: toowish popa ku // Cahuilla: palsingat
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Supporting Documents


Botanical Description(s)

1) The upper stem leaves completely surround the stems giving the appearance of tiny lily pads (Tilford, 1997, p. 98). The plant blooms early to midspring (Tilford, 1997, p. 98). All species prefer moist soils (Tilford, 1997, p. 98). Claytonia perfoliata is common to disturbed areas such as gardens, lawns, and pastures and is widespread from Baja north to British Columbia and east from the Pacific to the eastern edge of the Rockies (Tilford, 1997, p. 98). Several other species can be found throughout much of the Mountain and Pacific West (Tilford, 1997, p. 98).
Bibliographic Source: Tilford, Gregory L. - Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West
Publication: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1997
2) Claytonia perfoliata is the most common species of Indian (Miner's) lettuce (Lightner, 2006, p. 265). This species is characterized by basal leaves that are ovate not linear, with long stalks (Lightner, 2006, p. 265).
Bibliographic Source: Lightner, James - San Diego County Native Plants
Publication: San Diego Flora, 2006
3) Miner's (Indian) lettuce is a native annual plant that is most common in moist or shaded places at elevations less than 6,000 feet (Lightner, 2006, p. 265). The plant's growth pattern is less than 1 foot in height (Lightner, 2006, p. 265). Miner's lettuce bears two types of leaves, basal and cauline (on the stem) (Lightner, 2006, p. 265). The flowers are in terminal clusters and are white or pink (Lightner, 2006, p. 265).
Bibliographic Source: Lightner, James - San Diego County Native Plants
Publication: San Diego Flora, 2006

Plant Uses

Medicinal Uses

>Medicinal Purpose: > Dietary aid
>Part Used: > Unknown
>Preparation: >Unknown
>Administration: >Juice
>Explanation: >According to Moerman, the Mahuna used the juice from claytonia perfoliata spp. as an appetite restorer (1998, p. 167).
>Related Plant Lore: >
>Bibliographic Source: >Moerman, Daniel E. - Native American Ethnobotany
Publication: Timber Press, Inc., 1998

>Medicinal Purpose: > Minor burns
>Part Used: > Leaves, stems
>Preparation: >Crushed
>Administration: >Apply poultice to burn area (Tilford, 1997, p. 98).
>Explanation: >Cools and soothes (Tilford, 1997, p. 98).
>Related Plant Lore: >The crushed leaves and stems of any species of Claytonia are cooling and soothing when applied to affected areas (Tilford, 1997, p. 98).
>Bibliographic Source: >Tilford, Gregory L. - Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West
Publication: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1997

>Medicinal Purpose: > Minor skin irritations
>Part Used: > Leaves, stems
>Preparation: >Crushed
>Administration: >Apply poultice to irritated skin (Tilford, 1997, p. 98).
>Explanation: >Cools and soothes (Tilford, 1997, p. 98).
>Related Plant Lore: >The crushed leaves and stems of any species of Claytonia are cooling and soothing when applied to affected areas (Tilford, 1997, p. 98).
>Bibliographic Source: >Tilford, Gregory L. - Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West
Publication: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1997
Utilitarian Uses
No Utilitarian Uses Found in Database
Food Uses

>Medicinal Purpose: > Vegetable
>Part Used: > Leaves, stems
>Preparation: >Cooked or fresh
>Administration: >Edible
>Explanation: >Used by the Luiseno for greens or eaten raw (Moerman, 1998, p. 167).
>Related Plant Lore: >
>Bibliographic Source: >Moerman, Daniel E. - Native American Ethnobotany
Publication: Timber Press, Inc., 1998

>Medicinal Purpose: > Greens
>Part Used: > Leaves
>Preparation: >Fresh or boiled
>Administration: >Edible
>Explanation: >According to Bean and Saubel, the Cahuilla ate miner's lettuce as a green (1972, p. 89).
>Related Plant Lore: >The plant was available for gathering in the early spring (Bean and Saubel, 1972, p. 89).
>Bibliographic Source: >Bean, Lowell John, and Katherine Siva Saubel - Temalpakh Cahuilla Indian knowledge and usage of plants
Publication: Malki Museum, Inc., 1972

>Medicinal Purpose: > Greens
>Part Used: > Leaves, stems
>Preparation: >Fresh
>Administration: >Food
>Explanation: >Excellent in salads and sandwiches (Tilford, 1997, p. 98).
>Related Plant Lore: >Miner's lettuce was named for its use by miners during the California gold rush (Tilford, 1997, p. 98). The plant is one of the tastiest edible wild plants (Tilford, 1997, p. 98). Furthermore, miner's lettuce stays tender and sweet throughout its growth cycle distinguishing it from most other wild edibles which tend to become tough and bitter with age (Tilford, 1997, p. 98).
>Bibliographic Source: >Tilford, Gregory L. - Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West
Publication: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1997

>Medicinal Purpose: > Vegetable
>Part Used: > Young leaves
>Preparation: >Boiled once and eaten as greens (Moerman, 1998, p. 167).
>Administration: >Edible
>Explanation: >According to Moerman, the Digueno picked young leaves of miner's lettuce in the spring before the flowers disappeared and used the leaves for greens (1998, p. 167).
>Related Plant Lore: >
>Bibliographic Source: >Moerman, Daniel E. - Native American Ethnobotany
Publication: Timber Press, Inc., 1998
Cultural Uses
No Cultural Uses Found in Database