Montia perfoliata

Botanical Name :Montia perfoliata
Family: Portulacaceae
Genus: Claytonia
Species: C. perfoliata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Synonims:Claytonia perfoliata

Common Names:Miner’s lettuce, Winter Purslane, or Indian lettuce

Habitat::  Montia perfoliata  is  native to  Western N. America – British Columbia to California and Mexico. Montia perfoliata is  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.It is widely naturalized in western Europe, where it was introduced in 1749.  It grows on disturbed and waste ground, moist banks and slopes, often in partial shade, especially on light soils. Also found on rather dry sandy soils.

Description:
Montia perfoliata is an  annual trailing plant, growing to a maximum of 40 cm in length, 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).
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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.

Cultivation:
Prefers a moist peaty soil. It is often found growing wild on sandy soils. An easily grown plant, it can succeed on very poor and dry soils. Plants grow well the dappled shade of trees, producing a better quality crop in such a situation. Although only an annual, it usually self-sows when well sited. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to at least -15°c. Miner’s lettuce is occasionally cultivated as a salad plant. It’s main value is as a reliable producer of leaves in the winter, though it can provide leaves all year round. It can be grown as a cut and come again crop.

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Propagation:
Seed – sow spring or autumn in situ. The seed usually germinates rapidly.

Edible Uses;
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.

Medicinal Uses:
Apart from its value as a nourishing vegetable, miner’s lettuce, like its relative purslane, may be taken as a spring tonic and an effective diuretic.Montia perfoliata  used by California Gold Rush miners who ate it to get their vitamin C to prevent scurvy.
The leaves are gently laxative. Apart from its value as a nourishing vegetable that is rich in vitamin C, it can also be taken as an invigorating spring tonic and an effective diuretic. A poultice of the mashed plants has been applied to rheumatic joints.

Other Uses:
Although only an annual, this species makes an excellent ground cover in a cool acid soil under trees. In such a position it usually self-sows freely and grows all year round.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claytonia_perfoliata
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Claytonia+perfoliata

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