Winter greenery

The rains came and the Bay Area greened up, in that astonishing bright yellow-green of sudden growth. All sorts of plants are sprouting: just up the street from me, the calla lilies (planted in front of houses) and the miner’s lettuce (wild volunteers), both still in very early stages; they’ll bloom in February or March.

Calla lilies. These I posted on, with the obligatory bow to Katharine Hepburn in Stage Door, for St. Patrick’s Day in 2012 (when they were blooming). Such a strange flower.

At the moment they’re just green spears poking out of the ground.

Miner’s lettuce. A modest and delightful wild plant. From Wikipedia:


Claytonia perfoliata (spring beauty, miner’s lettuce, winter purslane, or Indian lettuce; syn. Montia perfoliata) is a fleshy annual plant 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.

… The small pink or white flowers have five petals 2–6 mm long; they appear from February to May or June

… The common name miner’s lettuce refers to its use by California Gold Rush miners who ate it to get their vitamin C to prevent scurvy. 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. Miner’s lettuce can sometimes accumulate toxic amounts of soluble oxalates. [Et in Arcadia ego.]

Claytonia is in the family Montiaceae (formerly Portulacaceae), the family of the genus Portulaca, succulent plants that include the showy garden flowers (Portulaca grandiflora) called “moss roses” and common purslane (Portulaca oleraceae), a widespread weed often used as a salad green.

Bonus: also in the genus Claytonia (with miner’s lettuce) is one of my favorite wildflowers from back in Ohio. From Wikipedia:

Claytonia virginica (L.), the Eastern spring beauty, Virginia spring beauty, or fairy spud, is an herbaceous perennial in the family Portulacaceae. Its native range is Eastern North America. Its scientific name honors Colonial Virginia botanist John Clayton (1694–1773).

… Flowering occurs between March and May depending on part of its range and weather.

… Spring beauty is found in the Eastern temperate deciduous forest of North America. It is noted for its abundance throughout many parts of its range, especially in forests. The plant can be found throughout many different habitat types including lawns, city parks, forests, roadsides, wetlands, bluffs, and ravines.


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