Spring Beauty

Spring Beauty
Spring Beauty. Claytonia virginica.
Portulacaceae, the purslane family.

Plant: Low, semi-succulent plant, 6"-10", growing from an underground bulb, that produces a stem with, usually, a single pair of linear leaves below a loose cluster of pink, striped flowers.
Flowers: Pink to sometimes white, striped, 1/2"-3/4", with five petals, two sepals, and five stamens with pink anthers. The flowers are organized in a loosed cluster (a raceme) generally with 5-15 flowers.
Leaves: Opposite, linear, semi-succulent, to about 6", usually a single pair located midway up the stem.
Fruit: A capsule enclosed by the two sepals.
Blooming: April-May
Habitat: Deciduous woods

Comments: One of the early spring flowers. The bulbs are edible and good, and were cooked and eaten by the native Americans and early colonists. Gathering the bulbs destroys the plant, and the flowers are so lovely that it seems a waste to dig them up unless one is actually starving in the woods.

Where to find it: Scattered through the upper woods of the park, and first opening a week or two after the toothwort appears, along with the trout lilies and trilliums. All of these occur mixed together in the last two weeks of April.