Siberian Miner’s Lettuce

The succulent Siberian Miner's Lettuce

One day in May, a few years ago, my brother and I decided to explore a remote valley on the east side of Harrison Lake in British Columbia.

There are no roads to this place. We ran up the lake as far as we could by truck and then launched our Avon inflatable. We proceeded by boat further up the lake to the mouth of the creek that comes down out of the valley. Picking up an old logging trail, we began the two day hike.

When packing for this trip, I asked my wife to add a small bottle of premixed salad dressing into our provisions. The idea was, since it was early in the season, we were bound to run into some fresh young greens to munch on with our dry sandwiches. We found a big patch of Siberian Miner's Lettuce along the trail and picked enough for a nice substantial salad.

This turned into one of these events, which lives on in your mind and that you will never forget – it tasted fantastic!

So, as you can see, I am very partial to this plant. It is very succulent and tender and has an earthy taste.

Siberian Miner's Lettuce grows in moist places in the woods.

Siberian Miner's Lettuce grows in moist places in the woods.

It likes moist woods with partial shade. The numerous fleshy stems grow in the form of a rosette, sprout opposing lance shaped leaves and are topped with small flowers. These are about half inch in diameter and sport 5 white or pink candy striped petals with a notch at the tip.

The candy stripes are probably responsible for its alternate name of Candy Flower.
It is called Siberian Miner's Lettuce because it is native to Siberia. However, it is also native to the west coast of North America and the early miners used it as salad makings. They are said to have agitated ants crawl over it, to add a little flavor from the acid these critters leave behind.

The fleshy leaves and stems of the Candy Flower, mixed with some dandelion leaves, fire weed tops or any other wild or domesticated greens, make a very succulent salad – particularly when you are camping out in the bush and do not have access to a supermarket.

Try it, you'll like it!

Get field guides for this and other edible, wild plants, here.



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