Claytonia perfoliata, Indian or Miner's Lettuce

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Claytonia perfoliata

Indian lettuce is often a Californian's first wild green. It is a succulent, melt-in-your-mouth raw salad green that grows ebulliently given shade and moisture. Recently it has gained popularity in the gourmet greens world, attracting organic growers and chefs. Late winter and spring are its natural seasons, which can be extended simply by planting it later and insuring it is kept moist throughout its growth cycle. It is also an attractive short term (3 month) ground cover which can be helpful in controlling the early spring growth of invasive non-native grasses and forbs.

It thrives in both sun and part-shade and has an uncanny ability to appear in odd places, such as in planter boxes on second stories. Possibly native ants are attracted to the white spot on the end of each seed,  called the elaiosome, and help disseminate this plant.

Indian lettuce is found in some wildflower fields with good moisture levels, the earliest to bloom and set seed. In this way, it is compatible with and found growing in meadowfoam fields (Limnanthes douglasii).