|Corn salad is identifiable by its rounded leaf and deep green colour|
Valerianella locusta is a small annual plant that is eaten as a leaf vegetable. It has a characteristic nutty flavour, dark green colour, and soft texture, and is popularly served as salad greens. Common names include corn salad, common cornsalad, lamb's lettuce, mâche (//), fetticus, feldsalat, nut lettuce, field salad. In restaurants that feature French cooking, it may be called doucette or raiponce, as an alternative to mâche, by which it is best known. 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 girl's name in the eponymous fairy tale.
In warm conditions it tends to bolt to seed, 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 (0.06 to 0.08 in) long and wide, and three stamens. Underneath the flowers is a whorl of bracts. Fertilized flowers produce achenes with 2 sterile chambers and one fertile chamber.
Distribution and habitat
Corn salad grows wild in parts of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia. 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.
Corn salad was originally foraged by European peasants. Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie, royal gardener of King Louis XIV, introduced it to kitchen gardening. It has been eaten in Britain for centuries and appears in John Gerard's Herbal of 1597. 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. American president Thomas Jefferson cultivated mâche at his home, Monticello, in Virginia in the early 1800s.
Like other formerly foraged greens, corn salad 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.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults. |
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