Miner’s Lettuce Family

Miner’s Lettuce © EKennedy

Montiaceae (mon-tee-AYE-see-ee)

Iconic Features

    • Herbaceous, usually fleshy plants
    • Leaves simple
    • Generally 2 sepals
    • Seeds with elaiosomes

    Description (Jepson)

      • Eudicotyledons (eudicots) – a major lineage of flowering plants including most plants traditionally described as dicots and generally characterized by
        • 2 seed leaves (dicotyledon)
        • Netted (reticulate) leaf venation
        • Flower parts in fours and fives
        • Pollen grains with 3 pores (tricolpate)
        • Vascular bundles in stem arranged in a ring
        • Taproot system
      • Annual to perennial herbs
      • Leaves
        • Simple (not divided into leaflets)
        • Often fleshy or succulent, an adaptation to dry conditions and intense sunlight
        • Alternate (1 leaf at each junction with stem) or opposite (2 leaves at each junction with stem)
      • Flowers
        • Inflorescence (flower arrangement) in many forms
        • Bisexual and radially symmetric
        • Generally 2 sepals
        • Ovary superior (above the attachment of other flower parts)
      • Fruit a capsule (a dry, multi-chambered fruit that splits open at maturity)
        • Seeds have fleshy appendages called elaiosomes, nutrient-rich packages that attract ants, who carry the seeds back to their colony, feed the packet to their larvae, and discard the seed–thus aiding in seed dispersal
      • Many species contain oxalic acid, giving them a mildly acidic bite


        • Approximately 230 species worldwide
          • Includes red maids, pussypaws, and bitterroots
        • Scientific name from the included genus Montia, named for Giuseppe Monti (1682-1760), botanist, chemist and Director of the Bologna Botanic Garden
        • Represented by 5 species at Edgewood

        See General References

        Browse Some Edgewood Plants in this Family