SPRING BEAUTY (Claytonia virginica)

Claytonia virginica The season has definitely arrived when this herald of spring appears. Its five white to pinkish petals with bright pink veins peek out through the grass in moist lawns, or from the leaves in moist open woods, meadows or clearings, from February through April, carpeting the earth with their fragile beauty.

The delicate little flowers are just four to six inches high and the leaves look like the grass where they are so often found, and where they soon disappear after blooming. The blossoms are less than one inch wide.

This perennial comes from a tiny globose corm with many eyes from which sprout one to several slender stems. These slender stems often grow in a reclining position. Halfway up each stem there are two clasping grass-like leaf blades. A small cluster of dainty flowers rests at the end of the fragile stem. The flower closes at darkness but opens again the next day. The entire plant is succulent.

The round tuber-like corm is edible and tastes like radishes when eaten raw, and like chestnuts when cooked. It was highly prized by American Indian children. Its small size and resulting sacrifice of the plant make questionable its use as food today.  This plant is a member of the Purslane Family, Portulacaceae.