Spring Beauty

Claytonia virginica

spring_beauty_3-20-12.jpg

Photo of spring beauty plants and flowers
Julianna Schroeder
Edible
Family

Portulacaceae (purslanes)

Description

Our most widely distributed early spring flower. Flower stalks bear several flowers branching from the main stem; flowers with 2 sepals that fall off as the flower opens; 5 petals, white (sometimes pink) with distinct pink veining; 5 pink stamens. Blooms February–May. Leaves 1 or 2 basal and 1 opposite pair on stems, narrow, lanceolate, tapering to a sessile base, dark green, sometimes purplish, fleshy. Root a rounded corm.

Size

Height: about 5 inches during flowering; about twice that tall later.

Spring Beauty

Spring Beauty
Spring Beauty
Spring Beauty at Diana Bend Conservation Area

Spring Beauty at Forest 44 CA

Spring Beauty at Forest 44 CA
Spring Beauty at Forest 44 CA
Spring Beauty at Forest 44 CA

Spring Beauty

Spring Beauty in Columbia backyard
Spring Beauty in Columbia backyard
Spring Beauty in Columbia backyard
Habitat and conservation

Found, often in abundance, in open woods, fields, valleys, suburban lawns, and sometimes rocky ledges. This species is also called the Virginia spring beauty, picking up on the scientific name, as well as “fairy spud,” for the edible corms, which resemble tiny potatoes.

image of Spring Beauty distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

Statewide.

Human connections

This well-named plant provides a bounty of beauty in the woods as well as in open areas and yards. The potato-like corms (“fairy spuds”) and the leaves are edible, and naturally Native Americans knew this well before today’s wild-foods enthusiasts.

Ecosystem connections

This and other tender plants that emerge in early spring provide a welcome dietary boost for many animals, from insects to birds to mammals. Other plants in the purslane family include the garden favorite “moss rose,” and the bitterroot flower of the Rocky Mountains.