Our Wild & Edible series showcases different wild and edible plants in the San Diego region. The purpose of this section is to educate the masses about our native plants and their uses. We feel it is important to have this knowledge in case you are ever stuck in a sticky situation, such as being lost on a hike and need to forage in order to survive. It also helps re-connect us to the land, which thanks to technology, most of us are being pulled further and further away.
Native plants may grow on your own property, or a friend’s property, in which case it is completely legal to harvest from. Plant nurseries often have a native plant section as well, in which case you can purchase your own plants! Otherwise, wild harvesting is considered illegal in most places in San Diego. Learn your plants and grow your wisdom! Wisdom is power, afterall.
Miner’s Lettuce received its name after the California Gold Rush. Historically, the miner’s who were in great need of nutritious food sources, would harvest this green due to its high Vitamin C content. Growing in abundance along shaded areas, the lettuce became a valuable food source.
Worldly explorers who came across the lettuce were so impressed with not only its nutritional value but also flavor that they brought seeds back to Europe. It wasn’t long before it had spread all over the continent, even making its way to Cuba and Austrailia.
Miner’s Lettuce is chock-full of nutrients, packing in 1/3 of your daily Vitamin C requirements from one bowl of salad. They also contain 22% of your daily requirements of Vitamin A and 10% iron. This plant is said to have been used to ward off scurvy even!
Miner’s Lettuce is a spring green, growing in mild climates, such as ours in San Diego. It thrives in partial shade and oftentimes near creeks. It prefers cool, but not freezing temperatures.
It is considered an annual, but easily spreads its seeds so tends to pop up in the same spot year after year. It needs a decent amount of rainfall so if we’ve had a drought, it may not pop up for the season or be much smaller in size.
Miner’s Lettuce is quite delicious with a cool, crisp cunch when eaten. It is a great addition to a salad and can sell for quite a lot of money to areas where it does not naturally grow. The entire plant is edible, but the leaves are what is most desired.
The plant is best eaten raw so adding it to sandwiches or cold pastas is best. Enjoy!