PURSLANE FAMILY - Portulacaceae: Spring Beauty; Claytonia

Claytonia virginica

Flowers--White veined with pink, or all pink, the veinings of deeper shade, on curving, slender pedicels, several borne in a terminal loose raceme, the flowers mostly turned one way (secund). Calyx of 2 ovate sepals; corolla of 5 petals slightly united by their bases; 5 stamens, 1 inserted on base of each petal; the style 3-cleft. Stem: Weak, 6 to 12 in. long, from a deep, tuberous root. Leaves: Opposite above, linear to lance-shaped, shorter than basal ones, which are 3 to 7 in., long; breadth variable.

Preferred Habitat--Moist woods, open groves, low meadows.

Flowering Season--March-May.

Distribution--Nova Scotia and far westward, south to Georgia and Texas.

Very early in the spring a race is run with the hepatica, arbutus, adder's tongue, bloodroot, squirrel corn, and anemone for the honor of being the earliest wild flower; and although John Burroughs and Doctor Abbot have had the exceptional experience of finding the claytonia even before the hepatica--certainly the earliest spring blossom worthy the name in the Middle and New England states--of course the rank Skunk Cabbage, whose name is snobbishly excluded from the list of fair competitors, has quietly opened dozens of minute florets in its incurved horn before the others have even started.