Virginia Spring Beauty, Eastern Spring Beauty
Synonyms of Claytonia virginica: Claytonia bodinii Holz., Claytonia cautiflora Sweet, Claytonia grandiflora Sweet, Claytonia media (DC.) Link, Claytonia multicaulis var. robusta Somes, Claytonia ozarkensis John M.Mill. & K.L.Chambers, Claytonia robusta (Somes) Rydb., Claytonia simsii Sweet, Claytonia virginica var. acutiflora DC., Claytonia virginica var. graminifolia Gatt., Claytonia virginica var. hammondiae (Kalmb.) Doyle, Lewis & D.B.Snyder, Claytonia virginica f. hammondiae Kalmb., Claytonia virginica var. media DC., Claytonia virginica f. micropetala Fernald, Claytonia virginica var. simsii (Sweet) R.J.Davis
Claytonia virginica L. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Virginia Spring Beauty. The genus and species were named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
Plants of the World Online lists 32 species in the Claytonia genus (as of11-13-20 when I am updating this page). It is a member of the Montiaceae Family with a total of 14 genera. Those numbers could change periodically as updates are made.
There are several links at the bottom of the page for further reading and better plant ID.
I spotted a neat wildflower growing in the back southeast pasture on April 11 (2020). It was all by itself with several buds and one flower beginning to open. It was growing a few feet from the fence.
I took several photos because I thought it was pretty neat. It had a pair of strange, thick grass-like leaves on the stem and I didn’t notice any basal leaves.
I noticed a few pink stamens inside the flower which was also strange for them to be that color.
The buds were just hanging in a pendulous manner. How interesting…
I walked about 12 feet into the clearing and spotted quite a few plants with open flowers. That resulted in MANY more photos. I returned to the house with 138 photos of several wildflower species, not counting about 30 I had taken of the perennials that morning. Not wanting to waste time going through multiple photos online to figure out what this plant was, I used the drag-and-drop feature on iNaturalist. Within seconds the plant was identified as Claytonia virginica commonly known as Virginia Spring Beauty. After doing some further research I found other common names such as Eastern Spring Beauty, Spring Beauty, and Good Morning Spring. There are probably other names besides.
Flowering stems grow to 4-6” tall but after flowering, the grasses-like leaves continue to grow to reach 9-12” tall before disappearing as the plants go into dormancy. The stems are smooth (glabrous) and green or purplish tinged.
Not all plants seemed to have basal leaves or very few, but they are thick, fleshy, and dark green, linear to oblanceolate tapering to a sharp point. Leaves can have short to long petioles that are sometimes red-tinged. The stems have only one pair of leaves (#686-16, second photo), are thick and linear, grow opposite one another, and are sessile (no petioles) or may have short petioles.
The inflorescence grows on the top of the flowering stems and includes 5-18 flowers all seemingly growing to one side.
The above photo is of a nice colony with multiple open flowers.
The flowers have five white or pinkish petals with darker pink veins and five stamens.
Claytonia virginica needs damp springs to survive and dry springs will result in them dying. If they are found growing in your yard, continual mowing for several years will also end in their demise. It would be better if you dug up and moved them to a more protected area. If transplanting, plant the corms 3″ deep and 3″ apart. I noticed several websites offering them for sale.
A wider leaved species, Claytonia arkansana, grows south of Missouri and is native to Arkansas. Formerly, a wider leaved variety of C. virginica was named C. ozarkana but it is now considered a synonym.
According to Wikipedia, the Iroquois gave Claytonia virginica as a cold infusion or a decoction made of the powdered roots to children to treat convulsions. They also ate the roots because they believed they permanently prevented conception. The Iroquois and Algonquin people cooked their roots like potatoes. The leaves and stem are also edible…
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and most have pages listed on the right side of the blog. I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky
NOTE: Plants of the World Online is the most up-to-date database. It is very hard for some to keep with name changes these days so you may find a few discrepancies between the websites. Just be patient. Hopefully, someday they will be in harmony. 🙂