Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Occurrence in North America
WA WY BC MEXICO
and east to North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, and Arizona
Regional Distribution in the Western United States
This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):
1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
from the base with stems growing up to 14 inches (35 cm) tall. Leaves
are mostly basal, simple, and 2.4 to 8.0 inches (6-20 cm) long,
including the stalk. Miner's-lettuce has two stem leaves that fuse to
form a disc just below the flower stalk. The elongate stalk bears
numerous small flowers. Fruits are tiny, three-valved capsules
containing one to three seeds. Roots are fibrous [11,22,27,36].
Catalog Number: US 451542
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): J. N. Rose & J. H. Painter
Year Collected: 1903
Locality: Nevada de Toluca., Mexico, North America
- Holotype: Rydberg, P. A. 1932. N. Amer. Fl. 21: 309.
[10,14,18,19,22]. Miller  reported it from a variety of substrates
including river silt, sand, gravel, road tar, loam, rock crevices,
talus, and scree. He also found it on burned sites. Some polyploids
occur on specialized, distinctive sites. The Columbia River Gorge
octoploid, for example, occurs only on north-facing basalt talus slopes
or cliff faces. Other polyploids are more plastic in site requirements
In California, miner's-lettuce is most common below 6,500 feet (2,000 m)
; in Arizona it grows at elevations of 2,500 to 7,500 feet
(750-2,270 m) ; in Utah it grows at elevations of 2,600 to 10,890
feet (800-3,300 m) .
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
More info for the term: shrub
K001 Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest
K002 Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest
K005 Mixed conifer forest
K006 Redwood forest
K007 Red fir forest
K009 Pine - cypress forest
K010 Ponderosa shrub forest
K011 Western ponderosa forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K013 Cedar - hemlock - pine forest
K015 Western spruce - fir forest
K016 Eastern ponderosa forest
K017 Black Hills pine forest
K018 Pine - Douglas-fir forest
K019 Arizona pine forest
K020 Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest
K023 Juniper - pinyon woodland
K024 Juniper steppe woodland
K025 Alder - ash forest
K026 Oregon oakwoods
K028 Mosaic of K002 and K026
K029 California mixed evergreen forest
K030 California oakwoods
K034 Montane chaparral
K035 Coastal sagebrush
K037 Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K048 California steppe
K051 Wheatgrass - bluegrass
K055 Sagebrush steppe
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES22 Western white pine
FRES23 Fir - spruce
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon - juniper
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES42 Annual grasslands
Key Plant Community Associations
OCCURRENCE information, miner's-lettuce is associated with bigcone
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga macrocarpa), interior live oak (Quercus
wislizenii), and Coulter pine (Pinus coulteri) .
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
206 Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir
207 Red fir
210 Interior Douglas-fir
211 White fir
213 Grand fir
215 Western white pine
221 Red alder
222 Black cottonwood - willow
224 Western hemlock
229 Pacific Douglas-fir
230 Douglas-fir - western hemlock
233 Oregon white oak
234 Douglas-fir - tanoak - Pacific madrone
235 Cottonwood - willow
237 Interior ponderosa pine
238 Western juniper
239 Pinyon - juniper
243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer
244 Pacific ponderosa pine - Douglas-fir
245 Pacific ponderosa pine
246 California black oak
247 Jeffrey pine
248 Knobcone pine
249 Canyon live oak
250 Blue oak - Digger pine
255 California coast live oak
Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire
The Research Project Summary Vegetation response to restoration treatments
in ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir forests of western Montana provides
information on prescribed fire and postfire response of plant community
species including miner's-lettuce.
Plant Response to Fire
Miner's-lettuce was present in the first growing season after the
stand-destroying Marble-Cone wildfire in the Santa Lucia Range of
California in August 1977. Peak cover was reached in postfire year 2
and declined by postfire year 3. Percent frequency of miner's-lettuce
on two study sites that had been dominated by Coulter pine follows :
Site 1978 1979 1980
Chews Ridge site 1 9 36 8
Chews Ridge site 2 7 48 2
Miner's-lettuce is common in recently burned chaparral . A year
after a fire in chaparral in the Sierra Nevada foothills,
miner's-lettuce had high seed production on moist north-east slopes.
Postfire cover quickly exceeded prefire levels . Miner's-lettuce
was also present the year following a severe fire in a chaparral
riparian zone in the Los Padres National Forest, California, but its
frequency was reduced by postfire year 2 .
Miner's-lettuce is also common after fire in more northern portions of
its range. It was present in the first growing season after a fall
wildfire in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) stands in the
Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, Idaho, and had increased in frequency by
postfire year 3 . In burned ponderosa pine shelterwood cut units in Idaho,
miner's-lettuce was present in postfire year 1 on sites burned with dry fuels,
but was not present on sites burned with moist fuels. It also was
not present in the prefire vegetation or in unburned control plots .
Miner's-lettuce was present in the first growing season following the
stand-destroying Pattee Canyon wildfire in a Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga
menziesii)/ninebark (Physocarpus malvaceus) habitat type in west-central
Montana . It was still present in the herbaceous layer 10 years
On ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir communities in the Blue Mountains
of northeastern Oregon, miner's-lettuce cover and frequency were higher
on sites that had been burned 4 years previously than on thinned,
thinned and burned, or unburned control sites. Miner's-lettuce was
determined to be an indicator species for thinned sites (P≤0.05).
For further information on the effects of thinning and burning treatments
on miner's-lettuce and 48 other species, see the Research Project Summary
of Youngblood and others'  study.
A basin big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata spp. tridentata)-Idaho fescue
(Festuca idahoensis)-bluebunch wheatgrass community at the John Day
Fossil Beds National Monument in east-central Oregon was burned in the
spring and fall. Although not in the prefire vegetation, miner's-lettuce
was present in trace amounts (less than 2% frequency) the summer after
the fall prescribed fire. It was not present after the spring fire or
in control plots . See the Research Project Summary of this work
for more information on fire effects on miner's-lettuce and 60 additional
forbs, grasses, and woody plant species.
Miner's-lettuce establishes after fire in disturbed and climax
grasslands in southeastern Washington .
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer - on-site seed
Miner's-lettuce has long-lived seeds that are stored in the soil 
and germinate following fire . It is a prolific seeder ; mass
flowering in the years immediately following a fire recharges the
seed bank . Miner's-lettuce can develop high cover on exposed soil
in full sun .
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
Fire Management Considerations
Nevada foothills contributes to an increased food supply for flocking
bird species such as mourning dove and western meadowlark .
Facultative Seral Species
Miner's-lettuce occurs in all seral stages. It often colonizes
disturbed sites, particularly following fire [22,24]. Miner's lettuce
is also found on virgin fields dominated by bluebunch wheatgrass
(Pseudoroegneria spicata) and Sandberg bluegrass (Poa secunda) in
southeastern Washington . However, miner's-lettuce is shade tolerant
[22,26,27] and is more prominent under a canopy than in openings in oak
savanna, western white pine (Pinus monticola), and antelope bitterbrush
(Purshia tridentata) communities [3,23,26].
common method of pollination, but insect pollination also occurs. Seeds
are dispersed by explosive dehiscence. They are capable of immediate
Immediate Effect of Fire
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Claytonia perfoliata
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Claytonia perfoliata
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
In California, density and overall yield of miner's-lettuce is greater
in bracken fern communities than in surrounding grasslands [14,15].
This may be due to increased moisture availability in winter and early
spring, when bracken fern is dormant .
Miner's-lettuce is a host to the beet western yellows virus, which is
spread by aphids .
Purslane sawfly larvae, which consume the seeds, afford some biological
control over miner's lettuce [42,43].
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Other uses and values
humans at any time during the growing season. They are eaten raw or
cooked, and are a good source of vitamin C [11,37]. Historically,
miner's-lettuce was used as a salad plant and potherb by white settlers
and Native Americans . It was also used to avert or cure scurvy
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
savannas in California . It is also grazed by pocket gophers .
Mourning doves, California quail, and other seed-eating birds consume
the fruits [24,41].
|This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (March 2013)|
Claytonia perfoliata (Indian lettuce, spring beauty, winter purslane, or miner's lettuce ; syn. Montia perfoliata) is a fleshy annual plant native to the western mountain and coastal regions of North America from southernmost Alaska and central British Columbia south to Central America, but most common in California in the Sacramento and northern San Joaquin valleys.
Claytonia perfoliata is a rosette-forming plant, growing to a maximum of 40 cm in height, but mature plants can be as small as 1 cm. The cotyledons are usually bright green (rarely purplish or brownish-green), succulent, long and narrow. The first true leaves form a rosette at the base of the plant, and are 0.5–4 cm long, with an often long petiole (exceptionally up to 20 cm long).
The small pink or white flowers have five petals 2–6 mm long; they appear from February to May or June, and are grouped 5–40 together above a pair of leaves that are united together around the stem to appear as one circular leaf. Mature plants have numerous erect to spreading stems that branch from the base.
It is common in the spring, and it prefers cool, damp conditions. It first appears in sunlit areas after the first heavy rains. Though, the best stands are found in shaded areas, especially in the uplands, into the early summer. As the days get hotter, the leaves turn a deep red color as they dry out.
There are four ill-defined geographical subspecies:
- Claytonia perfoliata subsp. perfoliata: Pacific coastal United States and southwest Canada
- Claytonia perfoliata subsp. intermontana: interior western United States
- Claytonia perfoliata subsp. mexicana: coastal southern California and Arizona south through Mexico to Guatemala
- Claytonia perfoliata subsp. utahensis: recognised as local subspecies in Utah.
The common name miner's lettuce refers to its use by California Gold Rush miners who ate it to get their vitamin C to prevent scurvy. It can be eaten as a leaf vegetable. Most commonly it is eaten raw in salads, but it is not quite as delicate as other lettuce. Sometimes it is boiled like spinach, which it resembles in taste. Miner's lettuce can sometimes accumulate toxic amounts of soluble oxalates.
Cauline leaves are perfoliate
- "Miner's Lettuce". UC IPM Online. UC Davis.
- Hank Shaw (March 7, 2011). "Foraging for Miner's Lettuce, America's Gift to Salad". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2013-04-06.
- Archibald Menzies (1923). Menzies' Journal of Vancouver's Voyage, April to October, 1792 [extract]. W. H. Cullin Printers. Retrieved 2013-04-07.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Kartesz (1999) moves 'utahensis' and 'viridis' material, both formerly (1994) placed in Claytonia perfoliata (C. perfoliata ssp. perfoliata var. utahensis and C. perfoliata ssp. viridis), into Claytonia parviflora. Claytonia perfoliata ssp. intermontana and C. perfoliata ssp. mexicana, both newly described in 1993 and not addressed in Kartesz (1994), are also recognized as subspecies within C. perfoliata by Kartesz (1999).
The currently accepted scientific name of miner's-lettuce is Claytonia
perfoliata Donn. (Portulacaceae) [38,44]. The Claytonia perfoliata
complex is a polyploid group of considerable complexity, with several
subspecies and many ecotypes [39,40]. The following subspecies are
C. perfoliata spp. perfoliata 
C. perfoliata ssp. mexicana (Rydb.) John M. Miller & Chambers 
C. perfoliata ssp. viridis (A. Davidson) Fellows .
Varieties under the synonym Montia perfoliata are listed in several
Miner's-lettuce hybridizes with C. parviflora, C. sibirica, and C. rubra
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