[The Spring Beauties and Miner's Lettuce of the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington]

Miner's Lettuce

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: 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: Claytonia perfoliata ssp. perfoliata (Synonyms: Claytonia perfoliata var. angustifolia, Claytonia perfoliata var. perfoliata, Limnia perfoliata, Montia perfoliata ssp. perfoliata, Montia perfoliata var. perfoliata)Characteristics:

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 to Claytonia.


Habitat:

Miner's lettuce is found in seasonally moist places in open to shady woods in the bottom lands to the lower mountains.


Range:

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'.


Miner's Lettuce: 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: Claytonia perfoliata ssp. perfoliata (Synonyms: Claytonia perfoliata var. angustifolia, Claytonia perfoliata var. perfoliata, Limnia perfoliata, Montia perfoliata ssp. perfoliata, Montia perfoliata var. perfoliata)

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.

Miner's Lettuce: 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: Claytonia perfoliata ssp. perfoliata (Synonyms: Claytonia perfoliata var. angustifolia, Claytonia perfoliata var. perfoliata, Limnia perfoliata, Montia perfoliata ssp. perfoliata, Montia perfoliata var. perfoliata)

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.

Miner's Lettuce: Claytonia perfoliata ssp. perfoliata (Synonyms: Claytonia perfoliata var. angustifolia, Claytonia perfoliata var. perfoliata, Limnia perfoliata, Montia perfoliata ssp. perfoliata, Montia perfoliata var. perfoliata)

A mass of miner's lettuce as seen at Catherine Creek in the Columbia River Gorge.........April 9, 2009.

Miner's Lettuce: Claytonia perfoliata ssp. perfoliata (Synonyms: Claytonia perfoliata var. angustifolia, Claytonia perfoliata var. perfoliata, Limnia perfoliata, Montia perfoliata ssp. perfoliata, Montia perfoliata var. perfoliata)

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: 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 beginning to bloom amongst fragile ferns and under Oregon white oaks in Rowena Dell, Columbia River Gorge..........April 5, 2014.

Paul Slichter