Thursday, February 25, 2010

Miner's lettuce in Sebastopol

Last week I visited Luther Burbank's Gold Ridge Experimental Farm in Sebastopol, a town about 20 miles west of Santa Rosa CA. It's a small property with many interesting plants and trees, which will probably be much more interesting in the spring and summer. However, I found that the miner's lettuce was much better developed than what I find at Howarth Park in Santa Rosa, so I decided to study it. Every year I intend to do some sketches of it but it tends to grow along trails at Howarth and, since so many dogs travel those trail I find myself a bit reluctant. There was a nice patch of it in a pleasantly shaded spot, which worked out well as the temperature was 72° F (22° C) and the sun was quite hot!
Miner's lettuce or Claytonia perfoliata  is an annual that begins to emerge in late winter and seems to be everywhere. I like it because you can eat it -- the leaves are quite tasty -- and it's a really pretty little plant. Surprisingly, it grows in dry areas. Once the rain stops, it's gone, unless you cultivate it in your garden. According to Calflora it grows in most of California.

As often happens, sketching the plants allowed me to see the fascinating structure of the plant. I was especially interested in the way water was held in the depression of the leaf after midday.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Debbie, I took my coffee break with you today. I still have not found the minor's lettuce but maybe that is because I am only walking in cultivated areas. What is the flavor like? Lettuce or something else?