Concept

Claytonia perfoliata

Summary
Claytonia perfoliata, commonly known as miner's lettuce, Indian lettuce, or winter purslane, is a flowering plant in the family Montiaceae. It is an edible, fleshy, herbaceous, annual plant native to the western mountain and coastal regions of North America. Claytonia perfoliata is a tender rosette-forming plant that grows to some in height, but mature plants can be as short as . The cotyledons are usually bright green (rarely purplish- or brownish-green), succulent, long and narrow. The first true leaves form a rosette at the base of the plant, and are long, with a typically long petiole (exceptionally up to long). The small pink or white flowers have five petals long. The flowers appear from February to May or June and are grouped 5–40 together. The flowers grow above a pair of leaves that are connected together around the stem so as to appear as a single circular leaf. Mature plants form a rosette; they have numerous erect to spreading stems that branch from the base. C. perfoliata is common in the springtime, and prefers a cool, damp environment. The plant first appears in sunlit areas after the first heavy rains of the year, though the best stands are found in shaded areas, especially in the uplands, into early summer. As the days get hotter and drier, the leaves turn a deep red color as they dry out. Together with two other Claytonia species, Claytonia parviflora and C. rubra, C. perfoliata comprises what is almost certainly a polyploid pillar complex, which is based on three diploid species. Two key studies on the population ecology and genetics of the C. perfoliata complex were published in 2012. There are three well-studied geographical subspecies of C. perfoliata: Claytonia perfoliata subsp. perfoliata: Pacific coastal United States and Canada (British Columbia) Claytonia perfoliata subsp. intermontana: interior western United States Claytonia perfoliata subsp. mexicana: coastal southern California and Arizona, all the way south to Mexico to Guatemala C.
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