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Siberian Miner's Lettuce

Siberian Miner's Lettuce or Western Spring Beauty, Montia sibirica

Siberian flower, photographer Martha Rasmussen

Siberian Miner's Lettuce is abundant throughout the Darrington area and is found in moist open woods and along trails and roads. Shortly after it comes up in early Spring, delicate pinkish-white flowers appear. One of the best trails to see this flower is starting off on the old mining road that is now the Goat Lake trail. It gets it's common name "Miner's Lettuce" because the leaves were harvested as a green by early miners and pioneers.

Siberian plants, photographer Martha Rasmussen

The Siberian Miner's Lettuce spreads into mats over time, the lone plant however appears more erect.  The foliage can very from green to bronze-green, bearing basal oblong leaves with opposite smaller oblong leaves growing above on the stems.  The white flowers with fine thin pink lines open in clusters.  Each flower bears five petals opening to about 1/4 to 1/2 wide.  Growing conditions can alter both petal and foliage color. 

Siberian Miner's Lettuce grabbing a little sunshine along the Goat Lake/Elliott Creek Trail, photographer Martha Rasmussen

This species is highly variable growing north to the Bering Straits of Alaska down northern California to the south and the eastside of the Cascade Mountain Range.  In the coastal areas it can begin blooming from March though October, about half of the year.  In the high elevations the blooming season can be less than one month where you will often see it growing with its close relative, Montia parvifolia the Little Leaf Miner's Lettuce which has pinker blossoms.