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Spring Beauty

This wildflower self-seeds and spreads well.

spring beauty

Photo: Fritzflohrreynolds (Wikimedia Commons)

Claytonia Virginica in bloom.

Claytonia Virginica, commonly known as spring beauty, is only five to twelve inches tall.

It grows from pea-sized corms that lie about three inches below the soil’s surface and produces groups of white or pink flowers, each with five petals. Tiny seed capsules follow the blooms, and once they are ripe, these ephemeral little plants completely disappear until next spring!

The plants like moist, open sites with humus, and they spread quickly in deciduous woods.

They can be seen growing in the wild from Quebec to Minnesota, south to Alabama and Texas, and are more plentiful in the southern and western parts of their range. In the southern parts of their habitat, they bloom before or during April depending on the weather, and further north they usually bloom in May.

These hardy little plants have grassy looking leaves that appear on opposite sides of the stem, starting about half way up. There are slight differences in the species that are native to Virginia and the Carolinas.

If you can find seed, plant it near the surface in spring or fall in pots containing ordinary garden soil. However, this wildflower self-seeds and spreads well, if you can get a start from a nursery or from a friend’s garden.

Picking the flowers, though, is thought to damage the plant, and the flowers immediately wilt, so just admire them outdoors.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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