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