Spring Beauty

Claytonia virginica
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.
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.
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.
Shortened URL
http://mdc.mo.gov/node/17196