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bear’s lettuce

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bear’s lettuce n Also bear lettuce chiefly seKY, wNC, eTN

A lettuce saxifrage n (here: Micranthes micranthidifolia).
1912 KY Geol. Surv. Bulletin 13.192 seKY, Bear’s Lettuce Hollow. On the right, 7¾ miles up Big Looney creek. 1921 Campbell S. Highlander 199 sAppalachians, A welcome addition to the spring diet is furnished by “sallets” of cress, poke, bear’s lettuce, and various other young greens. 1924 Notes Pine Mt. School 2.2.1 seKY, “In Aprile” we country folk make a sunshine holiday and search the woods for greens; plantain, crow-foot, bear’s lettuce, cow’s glory, woollen breeches, even spring beauties go into the basket. 1937 Mt. Life 12.4.18 seKY, After a long winter, her eyes under the old sunbonnet were quick to find the first greens “for a bait o’ sallet,” sorrel and speckledick nigh the Fork, and bear’s lettuce below the spring. 1945 S. Lit. Messenger 2d ser 3.6 swVA, Early in the spring those [=Melungeons] on my father’s farm (when I was a child) gathered a fuzzy, green plant along stream [sic] and ate it raw with salt. They called it “bear’s lettuce.” 1977 Shields Cades Cove 19 ceTN, The fresh wild greens of the spring were a welcome change. These included the wild cresses of the fields, the “bear” lettuce of the mountain streams, the toothwort of the moist stream banks, and, most abundant of all, the wild leek, or ramp, of the northern slopes. 1988 in 2011 Portelli They Say 33 seKY, We have another herb that’s in the spring of the year, we call bear’s lettuce, it’s a very nice greens for cooking, because you pour some hot grease over it and you can use the bacon mixed in with this, but it’s delicious. It’s a small green plant and it grows in the hollers where it’s damp. 1991 Weals Last Train 15 ceTN, The cattle relished the first greens of spring—the ramps, bear lettuce, turkey mustard, lamb’s tongue, and crow’s foot—after their winter diet of hay. 2003 (2004) Boughman–Oxendine Herbal Remedies Lumbee 96 wNC, Frederick “Fishhound” Arch (Eastern Band of Cherokee) stated that the Cherokee called Branch Lettuce “Bear Lettuce.” As a boy, he gathered the lettuce in the spring. He would wash it thoroughly and his mother would pour hot fatback grease onto the leaves to “kill it” (called “kilt lettuce”).
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