Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
This prevalent plant’s common name refers to its alleged nourishment for miners living in the wilds, far from civilization. We often pick a few leaves on our hikes for a refreshing sweet snack. In Portland, one can occasionally find the foraged greens on local menus.
Clatonias appear in large batches in spring-damp and often shady open areas of the forest floor, as evident in this photo. The multiple small flowers above each disc shaped leaf layer, are small with almost no color. Some books classify this plant, along with the closely related Spring Beauty and Candy flower, in the genus ‘montia’ while others use ‘claytonia’. Claytonia is named for John Clayton a noted botanist of colonial Virginia. Some of the first North American specimens he gathered were sent back to Oxford and examined and named by Linnaeus.