Apr 20 2011

Two Kinds of Spring Beauty

Published by at 7:30 am under Phenology,Plants


In late April on a sunny day in western Pennsylvania you’ll find the forest floor carpeted with small pale pink flowers. 

The flowers are actually white with tiny pink veins that guide insects to the center, “Follow this road to the nectar.”

These are Spring Beauties, a light sensitive flower in the Purslane family that doesn’t open unless the sun comes out.  Needless to say, with all the rain these 1/2″ flowers haven’t had much “face time” lately.

There are two kinds of Spring Beauty in our area.  The most common species is called simply Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) and has thin ribbon-like leaves.  It’s quite easy to find in moist woods. 

Carolina Spring Beauty (Claytonia caroliniana), pictured above, has wide oval leaves and is rare in western Pennsylvania.  The leaves are the clue.  The flowers are the same on both.

On the next sunny day — perhaps tomorrow — take a look in the woods for the beauties of spring.

(photo by Dianne Machesney)

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Two Kinds of Spring Beauty”

  1. Markon 20 Apr 2011 at 8:34 pm

    On a warm spring day, when there is no wind, visit areas with lots of Spring Beauty. Lie on the ground and smell the amazing fragrance of these small flowers.

  2. Lauren Conkleon 22 Apr 2011 at 9:10 am

    I have a large flower garden in my back yard that has been taken over by Spring Beauty, the kind with the thin leaves. It’s like a carpet that all but disappears in the evening when the petals close. This year, these little beauties have taken over a large patch of grass next to that garden. I told my son not to mow them! I hope in the future they will take over the entire yard!

    I didn’t know they had a fragrance. I’ll have to check that out. If you have a tiny vase, they don’t mind being picked and brought inside.

  3. Bruce Burnfieldon 22 Apr 2011 at 5:05 pm

    I’ll never forget the time some twenty years ago I was at Washington Park searching for wild flowers. I had my National Audubon Field Guide to Wild Flowers with me. Just as I came about a large drift of Spring Beauties, a girl walking the trails stopped to ask what I was looking at. I pointed out the small flower, and exclaimed…”isn’t it a beauty?”

    Then when I looked it up and was surprised at the coincidence, she thought I had set up the whole scene.

    Every time I see them, I think of that day.

    Thank you for the great website…enjoy it often.

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

Bird Stories from OnQ