[The Spring Beauties and Miner's Lettuce
of the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington]
Claytonia perfoliata ssp. perfoliata
Synonyms: Claytonia perfoliata var. angustifolia, Claytonia perfoliata var. perfoliata, Limnia perfoliata, Montia perfoliata ssp. perfoliata, Montia perfoliata var. perfoliata
Miner's lettuce as seen near Sherar's Bridge on the Deschutes
River..........mid April, 2004.
Miner's lettuce is an annual with several to many stems either
lax or ascending from 3-35 cm high. The basal leaves are linear-spatulate to
long-petiolate with oblanceolate to rhombic-obovate blades up to 3 cm wide and
roughly the same length as the flower stems. The two stem leaves are found at
the distal end of the stem, where they adjoin together to form a disk through
which the stem passes (hence the species name perfoliata, meaning the stem passing
through the leaf). This is a key diagnostic characteristics for this species.
This disc range from 0.6-5 cm wide.
The inflorescence is a short raceme found directly above the
disc. Individual flowers are white or pink with 5 short petals, 2 green petals,
and 5 stamens.
Current classification has changed the genus name from Montia
Miner's lettuce is found in seasonally moist places in open
to shady woods in the bottom lands to the lower mountains.
Miner's lettuce is found from British Columbia south along both
sides of the Cascade Mts. to Baja California and east to Arizona, Utah, Wyoming
and the Dakotas.
It may be found throughout the length of the Columbia River
Gorge between the elevations of 100'-3000'.
Note from the photos that the fused leaves
extend roughly equally in all directions from the stem (unlike Claytonia
rubra, in which the leaves are unequally fused, at least on one side.)
and that the stem leaves may be entirely round or oval, or with several points
on the edges.
These photos show how fleshy this uppermost, fused stem leaf
of miner's lettuce is.
Miner's lettuce (ssp. perfoliata) as seen under oak trees in the Labyrinth, mid-Columbia River Gorge.........April 15, 2010. Note the erect basal leaves.
A mass of miner's lettuce as seen at Catherine Creek in the Columbia River Gorge.........April 9, 2009.
A large mass of miner's lettuce (ssp. perfoliata) growing on recently burnt (wildfire from early fall 2009) ground along the Mosier Twin Tunnels Trail in the central Columbia River Gorge.........April 29, 2010. The perfoliate stem leaves average 3-4 inches in diameter.
Miner's lettuce beginning to bloom amongst fragile ferns and under Oregon white oaks in Rowena Dell, Columbia River Gorge..........April 5, 2014.