Valerianella locusta

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Valerianella locusta
Corn salad is identifiable by its rounded leaf and deep green colour
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Dipsacales
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Genus: Valerianella
V. locusta
Binomial name
Valerianella locusta
(L.) Betcke
  • Valeriana locusta L.
  • Valeriana locusta var. olitoria L.
  • Valerianella olitoria (L.) Pollich
Valerianella locusta illustration by Thomé (1885) showing the plant, flower, and seed.

Valerianella locusta, called mâche or mache; common cornsalad; or lamb's lettuce, is a small, herbaceous, annual flowering plant in the honeysuckle family Caprifoliaceae. It is native to Europe, western Asia and north Africa, where it is eaten as a leaf vegetable.


Cornsalad grows in a low rosette with spatulate leaves up to 15.2 cm long.[2] It is a hardy plant that grows to zone 5, and in mild climates it is grown as a winter green.

In warm conditions it tends to bolt to seed,[3] producing much-branched stems with clusters (cymes) of flowers. The flowers have a bluish-white corolla of five fused petals, 1.5 to 2 mm (116 to 564 in) long and wide, and three stamens. At the base of the corolla is a whorl of bracts. Fertilized flowers produce achenes with two sterile chambers and one fertile chamber.[4][5][6]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Cornsalad grows wild in parts of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia.[7] In Europe and Asia it is a common weed in cultivated land and waste spaces. In North America it has escaped cultivation and become naturalized on both the eastern and western seaboards.[8]

As a cultivated crop, it is a specialty of the region around Nantes, France, which is the primary producer of mâche in Europe.[9]


Cornsalad was originally foraged by European peasants. Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie, royal gardener of King Louis XIV, introduced it to kitchen gardening.[10] It has been eaten in Britain for centuries and appears in John Gerard's Herbal of 1597.[11] It was grown commercially in London from the late 18th or early 19th century and appeared on markets as a winter vegetable, but it only became available in modern supermarkets there in the 1980s.[12] American president Thomas Jefferson cultivated mâche at his home, Monticello, in Virginia in the early 1800s.[9]

Common names[edit]

Common names include lamb's lettuce, common cornsalad, or simply cornsalad,[13]: 831 [14]: 260 [2][15] mâche[2] (/mɑːʃ/), fetticus,[2] feldsalat,[2] nut lettuce,[2] field salad and valerian salad. The common name 'cornsalad' refers to the fact that it often grows as a weed in cornfields[11] ('corn' is used in the sense of 'cereal', not the US meaning of maize).

In German-speaking Switzerland it is known as Nüsslisalat or Nüssler, terms that have been borrowed by the area's many English speakers. In some areas of Germany it is known as rapunzel, and is the origin of the long-haired maiden's name in the eponymous fairy tale, but see Campanula rapunculus.[citation needed] In restaurants that feature French cuisine, it may be called doucette or raiponce, as an alternative to mâche, by which it is best known.[16] In the Balkan region it is known as matilovac. In Slovenia it is known as motovilec.


Cornsalad has a characteristic nutty flavour, dark green colour, and soft texture, and is popularly served as salad greens.[17]

Like other formerly foraged greens, cornsalad has many nutrients, including three times as much vitamin C as lettuce, beta-carotene, B6, iron, and potassium. It is best if gathered before flowers appear.[18]

Valerianella locusta
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
3.6 g
0.4 g
2 g
459 mg
4 mg
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source:[citation needed]


  1. ^ "The Plant List".
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Valerianella locusta". Floridata.
  3. ^ Plants for a Future: Valerianella locusta
  4. ^ "Valerianella locusta". E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia.
  5. ^ "Taxon Profile: Valerianella locusta". Flora of New Zealand. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  6. ^ "Taxon Profile: Valerianella". Flora of New Zealand.
  7. ^ "Valerianella locusta". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  8. ^ USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Valerianella locusta". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team.
  9. ^ a b "History of Mâche". Epicroots.
  10. ^ Organic Gardening Magazine, August–September 2007
  11. ^ a b Ayto, John, ed. (2002). An A-Z of Food and Drink. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280352-8.
  12. ^ T. W. Sanders (1917), Vegetables and Their Cultivation, London: W. H. & L. Collingridge Limited
  13. ^ Stace, C. A. (2019). New Flora of the British Isles (Fourth ed.). Middlewood Green, Suffolk, U.K.: C & M Floristics. ISBN 978-1-5272-2630-2.
  14. ^ Blamey, M.; Fitter, R.; Fitter, A (2003). Wild flowers of Britain and Ireland: The Complete Guide to the British and Irish Flora. London: A & C Black. ISBN 978-1408179505.
  15. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  16. ^ "Mâche". Larousse Cuisine.
  17. ^ "Valerianella locusta". Missouri Botanical Garden.
  18. ^ Bender, David A., ed. (2005). Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. Oxford University Press.


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWard, Artemas (1911). "[no title cited]". The Grocer's Encyclopedia.