This little plant has been popular as a salad plant as its common name suggests. it has been given the genus name of Valerianella, meaning little Valerian and the specific name of locusta formerly olitoria. It is placed in the family Valerianaceae. It is also referred to by the common name of Lambs lettuce, and we are informed by past herbalists, that this is because they appear about the time of lambing or that it is a favoured food of lambs.
Courtesy of Kristian peters CC BY-SA 3.0 license.
Corn salad produces a low rosette of spatulate leaves. It is a small annual, bright green, with succulent stems six to twelve inches [ 15-30 cm } high. They often fork from the base or at least from the lower part of its height. The first leaves springing from the root are one to three inches long.2.5 to 7.5 cm }. They have little or no stalks and these leaves generally decay quite quickly. The stem leaves are stalkless and some clasp the stem.
The tiny flowers are greenish white in appearance, arranged in close, rounded, terminal heads surrounded by narrow bracts, the tiny corolla is pale lilac, however, the flowers are so minute they often can appear colourless. Where they occur in any numbers the flowers may give the impression of a blue 'mist' from a distance.
In the UK, these plants occur in colonies on rocky outcrops, old walls, waste ground, shingle and sandy places often near the sea. They are in flower from April until June.
In former times this herb was in demand by country folk as a spring medicine and a homoeopathic tincture was made from the fresh root. In more modern times the leaves of this plant is said to be nutritional and a good source of iron. It is also recommended to boost vitality and to keep diseases at bay.
The abundant pyridoxine in corn salad is thought to improve brain function and it is claimed to help combat the development of dementia and other brain malfunctions. The high amount of vitamin C is reputed to lower high blood pressure.
Corn salad is beneficial in supporting the body's overall immune system and circulation.
Image courtesy of Gerard cohen CC BY-SA 3.0 license.