A small family of low herbs, with thick succulent leaves and perfect but unsymmetrical flowers, that is with unequal numbers of petals and sepals.
Spring Beauty (Claytonia Virginica) , although very delicate in appearance, is among our earliest flowering plants. It may be found blooming during the cold wintry month of March, during tempestuous April, as well as during the warmer May days.
The beautiful flowers have a pale flush of pink, with veins of deeper pink radiating from the yellowish base. One would expect flowers blooming at this season to be rather hardy, but we find this species to be very frail; the flowers close almost immediately upon being plucked, and only open during bright, sunny weather. The weak stem is usually very crooked and is often prostrate on the ground; two linear-lanceolate leaves clasp it oppositely about half way up. The flowers are in a loose, long-peduncled cluster, the buds assuming a drooping position. The opened flowers, somewhat less than inch across, have five petals, two sepals and five golden stamens that mature before the stigma. It is found in moist woods from Me. to Mich, and south to the Gulf.
A. Spring Beauty. Claytonia virginica,
B. Purslane. Portulaca oleracea.
This is a very common weed, naturalized from the old world. It has a prostrate, juicy stem and thick fleshy leaves; the latter are wedge-shaped with rounded ends. The stem is very branching and spreads or radiates from the root in an attractive circular form. The flowers are tiny, solitary and yellowish, seated in the whorls of leaves that terminate the branches. The five petals spread only in the morning sunshine. Pound in waste places anywhere and possibly indigenous in the Southwest.