Classification Hierarchy
Kingdom Plantae
Subkingdom Tracheophyta
Superdivision Spermatophyta
Division Magnoliophyta
Class Magnoliopsida
Subclass Caryophyllidae
Order Caryophyllales
Family Portulacaceae
Genus Claytonia
Species Claytonia virginica
Spring Beauty

Date: May 6 2008. Location: Kent Park (map)


Scientific Name: Claytonia virginica Named in honor of John Clayton.

Common Name: Spring Beauty

Origin: Native, perennial, spring ephemeral

Notes: Spring Beauty is one of the first plants to flower in the Iowa woodlands and one of the first to disappear. The tiny white blossoms pushing up through the leaf litter mark the end of winter and the promise of a new spring. Upon closer examination the white flowers reveal colorful veins (pink-ish) and anthers (pink).

This plant is easily identified. Although BONAP sites 26 species in the genus, only C. viriginica is shown in our area and nothing else looks similar. While the extent of the floral coloration varies–from nearly white to rose-the pattern of the colors is quite distinctive.

Occasionally (infrequently), a rust fungus (Puccinia mariae-wilsoniae) can be found on the plant—as shown on the underside of the leaf in the last two photos.

Additional references: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.

Field Marks for Identification:

Flowers: April-May; white with pink veins. stamen; five, pink.

Leaves: narrow 7 to 15cm long.

Glossaries of botanical terms: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Spring Beauty-1 Spring Beauty-2 Spring Beauty-3 Spring Beauty-4 Spring Beauty-5 Spring Beauty-6 Spring Beauty-7 Spring Beauty-8 Spring Beauty-9 Spring Beauty-10 Spring Beauty-11 Spring Beauty-12