Douglas Justice writes today's article.
Thanks to Marcela2 for today's image via the BPotD Flickr Group Pool (original image). Marcela2 writes (translated from the original Dutch ):
"The plant is frost resistant and as a result, in early spring an important source of vitamin C and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. In North America the plant was appreciated by both native Indians and the gold miners in California. For these people it was an important scurvy preventative in early spring, when they otherwise lacked a good source of vitamin C."
The genus is named in honour of John Clayton (1686-1773), who, according to William T. Stearn (Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners, 1972 ) "came to Virginia from England in 1705. He corresponded with the botanical great of the day—Linnaeus, Gronovius, Kalm, and John Bartram —as well as with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Collinson, the English Quaker botanist, described him as the greatest botanist in America."
The epithet, perfoliata, undoubtedly refers to the leaves that subtend the inflorescences of this species. The base of a perfoliate leaf completely encircles the stem, as can be seen in the drawing here. However, keen observers will notice that the encircling leaves of miner's lettuce as pictured above do not resemble those in the drawing. Indeed, the inflorescence leaves of this species are not perfoliate at all, but actually paired leaves that encircle the stem because they are fused at their bases. Such leaves are termed connate.