Spring Beauties

The first of the year

 The water in the small creek was much lower than it was a week ago when it had ice in the calm areas. Buffy and I left later this afternoon than usual for a short outing to break up the monotany of the day. The sun was too low for pictures in the creek, so we meandered through the woods instead.

Gentle water trickled behind me, and the 3p.m. sun angled tree shadows through the woods. Moss grew on the ground, on rocks and the base of tree trunks. Chorus frogs gave their “creeeeek” calls from a nearby wet area. A crow cawed as it flew over. Early spring wildflowers were sprouting in profusion, and a few were starting to bloom. This is early for southern Illinois. Our temperatures have run above average for most of the winter. Snow only accumulated once and melted that afternoon.

Tiny white flowers bloomed on spring cress and little yellow ones on corydalis. Feathery leaves of the corydalis were common along with leaves of cut-leaved toothwort, purple dead nettle, Dutchman’s breeches and chickweed … and then I found my first spring beauty flower of the year.

Spring beauties (Claytonia virginica)  are common in moist woods. They have 2 opposite linear leaves that can either be purplish like in the picture or can be green.  The petals have pale pink veins. The petals can also be pale pink with darker pink veins. The plants grow 4-5 inches tall. A tight cluster of buds hangs behind the flower petal on the right in the picture. The plants grow taller as the raceme unfolds and more flowers bloom.
Even if a wildflower is common, the first of the season is always a treat.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anna on March 10, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Interesting article! You are right- even if the flower is common, it is still exciting to see the first. I did not get to see the first because there are flowers all over the place here; kind of all growing at the same time.


  2. Posted by Anna on March 10, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Tell me about it! We only had about 3 freezes!


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