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Carolina spring beauty (Claytonia caroliniana)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMON NAMES:

Carolina spring beauty

Carolina springbeauty

broad-leaved spring beauty

wild potatoes

good morning spring

tngle gut

 

SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS:

Claytonia caroliniana Michx. var. lewisii McNeill

Claytonia caroliniana Michx. var. spathulifolia (Salisb.) W.H. Lewis

Claytonia spathulifolia Salisb.

 

CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.

 

TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for Carolina spring beauty is Claytonia caroliniana Michx. There are two varieties of Claytonia caroliniana: 1) variety caroliniana, and 2) variety lewisii. Variety caroliniana is the only variety recorded as occurring in Virginia.

 

NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.

 

GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:

 

Habit: The main stem is mostly erect but may be sprawling.

 

Leaves: A single pair of leaves are oppositely attached about midway up the stem. Leaves are up to 3 inches long and ½ to ¾ inch wide, have a prominent central vein, smooth edges, taper to a point at the tip and taper at the base to an obvious leaf stem.

 

Flowers: Flowers are in a raceme at the top of the plant that elongates to several inches as the plant matures. Each flower is ½ inch across with 5 pale pink to white petals with darker pink veins, and 5 stamens with deep pink tips. The flowers close up at night and on cloudy days. Closed flowers and buds nod down and become erect when the flower opens. One plant has a single cluster of 5 or more flowers, though not all may be open at the same time.

 

Fruits/Seeds: Seeds are 2-4 mm, black, shiny and smooth, somewhat lenticular in shape, with fleshy structures that are attached to the seeds (elaiosome, 1-2 mm).

 

Roots: Carolina spring beauty has a tuberous root sytem.

 

REGENERATION PROCESS: Carolina spring beauty propogates itself by reseeding.

 

HABITAT TYPES: Habitats include wetlands, riparian hardwood forests floodplains (river or stream floodplains), forest edges, forests,

rich open woods, alluvial thickets and upland slopes.

 

SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Carolina srping beauty prefers partial or dappled shade in light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained acidic soil.

 

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Carolina spring beauty blooms in the Spring.

 

GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Carolina spring beauty naturally occurs from Georgia north (except South Carolina) through New England into the Canadian Maritime Provinces. It extends west to Alabama and then north to Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota and then into Quebec and Ontario, Canada. It also disjunct occurrence in Arkansas.

 

SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.

 

IMPORTANCE AND USES: Fauna-flora relationships for Carolina spring beauty have not been well documented. It is anticipated that fauna involvement with Carolina spring beauty would be similar to spring beauty (Claytonia virginica).

 

According to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, spring beauties are not only beautiful spring ephemeral, but a tasty spud-like vegetable. The tubers, or the fleshy underground stem or root that provides nutrition to the plant, are a half inch to two inches in diameter, and are often compared to radishes or small potatoes. They taste, however, much sweeter than the average spud - more like a chestnut than potato - and are rich in nutrients including potassium, calcium and vitamins A and C.

 

 

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