Siberian Miner’s Lettuce: Not Just Salad

The purple-green plant growing in a rosette in the center of the photo is Siberian miner’s lettuce, also known as Siberian springbeauty, Claytonia sibirica. Like other wild edible plants in the purslane (Portulacaceae) family, it has succulent leaves that are mild in flavor and taste good raw.

Siberian miner’s lettuce is native to western North America and, as you may guess, to Siberia. Look for it in moist shady forest habitats. If you wander through Portland’s Forest Park, Tryon Creek State Park, or Lewis and Clark State Park right now, you will see it along the trailsides. A closely related species, Claytonia perfoliata, is common in urban neighborhoods.

All parts of the plant are edible. I have eaten the greens, but I would at some point like to dig up and cook the roots, because Thomas J. Elpel writes that they taste like “buttery potatoes,” and that sounds pretty great, although he says that it takes about an hour of work to get just a cup’s worth of roots, and that sounds less great.

Medicinally, Siberian miner’s lettuce has many documented uses.
* A cold infusion of the stems is used as an anti-dandruff hair rinse, and as an eye wash, by the Quileute people of the western coast of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.
* Skagit people of the northern Cascade range use an infusion of stems for sore throats.
* The Tlingit of British Columbia reportedly mixed the leaves with pitch and mountain hemlock bark to externally treat syphilis sores.
* The Songish of British Columbia reportedly soak the leaves and apply them to the forehead to treat headaches.

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18 thoughts on “Siberian Miner’s Lettuce: Not Just Salad

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  3. Pingback: Miner’s Lettuce is Incredibly Delicious | First Ways

  4. Started noticing this popping up on my foraging hikes this week. Thanks for the post, it helped me confirm what I thought was miners lettuce… but wasn’t sure because of the basal rosettes and purple hues.

    Tastes great. I’m cooking it up with cornish hens and dandelion flower fritters :)

  5. Any idea what the plant is in the top left corner? It’s all around a park by my house and I’d never seen it before I moved here (Tacoma WA)

    • Hi Tom,

      That’s a great question to raise. I asked the very knowledgeable person who first taught me this plant why it has a basal rosette here instead of the paired leaves you’re familiar with, and he explained that this is because the plant is at an earlier stage of growth, and that the paired leaves (and of course flowers) come later on. I found this link corroborating his description. http://science.halleyhosting.com/nature/gorge/5petal/purslane/claytonia/claytonia.htm

      I can tell you for sure I’ve eaten the leaves and they do taste like miner’s lettuce.

      Happy foraging,

      Becky

  6. I’ve dug up the roots of miner’s lettuce before, not a lot there. Thankfully when it grows it grows in great abundance, at least that’s the case where I live. Such a lovely high water content food.

  7. We call this plant ‘wilde postelein’ and grows around in my garden and orchard in the south-west of the Netherlands. I did not know about the medical use, but we eat it as a vegetable side dish in spring when we can buy it in the shops, cook it with a bit of butter or eat it as a salad. It is quite acidic, so in combination with eggs or cheese even better! Thanks for your information. Its always a joy to get your post! Iris

    • Really? That’s very interesting. I have heard of other herbal syphilis cures but tend not to pay much attention because I can’t say I’ve heard much about that disease lately — thought it was pretty much extinct. Do you have any links on the subject?

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