How do I ID the plant species?

We’ll be focusing on two species in the Claytonia genus of the Portulacaceae family: Claytonia virginica and Claytonia caroliniana, also known as “spring beauty.” Volunteers will observe either Claytonia virginica or C. caroliniana – whichever they have access to. These species are perennial plants native to temperate eastern North America. The plants have a tuber or corm which bears several stems, each with a pair of opposite leaves and 5-15 flowers. Flowers range from white to pink, and often have bright pink stripes. Both species are common, and can be found in the understory of deciduous forests; Claytonia virginica is common in parks and on lawns. They are often one of the earliest spring flowers to bloom – as early as February and March in the southeastern US. These two species look very similar, but can be distinguished by the shape of the leaves.

Claytonia virginica has narrower, grass-like leaves.

Claytonia virginica

Claytonia caroliniana has broader, oval-shaped leaves.

Claytonia caroliniana