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Miner's Lettuce, Indian Lettuce, Winter Purslane - Claytonia perfoliata

Family: Portulacaceae - Purslane family Genus Common Name: Spring Beauty Native Status: NativeDicot Annual Perennial Herb
Claytonia perfoliata - Miner's Lettuce, Indian Lettuce, Winter Purslane. One or more of the 28 North American species of Claytonia (Spring Beauty) are found in every state except Florida, Hawaii, and North Dakota. This species, Claytonia perfoliata, is primarily a western species, although disjunct populations have been reported in New Hampshire and Georgia. The USDA Plants Database shows it as introduced to Alaska and native to Georgia and New Hampshire, although I'm going to guess that it is likely an introduced species in those states as well. There are three subspecies of C. perfoliata - intermontana, mexicana, and perfoliata. Since ssp. perfoliata is the only one the USDA lists as being found in Idaho, where these photos were taken, it seems likely that these are ssp. perfoliata :-).

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Claytonia perfoliata

Distribution of Claytonia perfoliata in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 16 Dec 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Boise National Forest, Ada County, ID Date: 2010-June-15Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
When I first saw Miner's Lettuce, it didn't cry out to me as a Spring Beauty, but looking closely at the blossom the similarities to our eastern species become apparent, with the 5 white petals and 5 pink-tipped stamens, and with a really close look faint pink veining in the petals.
Claytonia perfoliata

Site: Boise National Forest, Ada County, ID Date: 2010-June-15Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
When the plant first forms leaves they have long petioles, but as the trailing plant develops, the leaves become conjoined, opposite pairs which encircle the stem, giving it the species epithet - perfoliata - as well as their most distinguishing feature. The leaves, blossoms, and stems are edible, and was used in salads and stews by western settlers and by Native Americans.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Claytonia perfoliata

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer