Claytonia caroliniana (Carolina Spring Beauty)

Plant Info
Also known as: Northern Spring Beauty
Family:Portulacaceae (Purslane)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; average to moist soil; deciduous and mixed forest, along streams and rivers
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:3 to 10 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: none MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Two to 10 stalked flowers, occasionally more, in a raceme at the top of the stem that elongates by several inches as the plant matures. Each flower is up to ½ inch (8 to 12 mm) across with 5 pale pink to white petals with darker pink veins and a spot of yellow at the base, and 5 pink-tipped stamens.

[photo of sepals] Cupping the flower is a pair of egg-shaped sepals shorter than the petals. The flowers close up at night and on cloudy days. Closed flowers and buds nod down and become erect when the flower opens.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] A single pair of oppositely attached leaves is about midway up the stem; a few similar basal leaves may also be present. Leaves are 1 to 3 inches (3 to 8 cm) long and up to 1 inch wide, lance-elliptic to nearly diamond-shaped, toothless, hairless, tapering to a blunt or pointed tip and tapering at the base to a stalk that is longer or shorter than the blade. Stems are erect or prostrate from the base before rising (decumbent) and hairless. One or more stems may arise from globular tubers.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is a round, 3-sectioned capsule containing several smooth, shiny seeds 2 to 4 mm long. The seeds have a coating that attracts ants, which disperse the seeds.


Carolina Spring Beauty is a species of rich, hardwood and mixed forests and reaches the eastern edge of its range in Minnesota. It was once considered somewhat rare and was listed as a Special Concern species in 1984, but subsequent biological surveys discovered numerous sites in the Arrowhead region of the state, most within 30 miles of Lake Superior's north shore, so it was delisted in 2013. It is very similar to the related Virginia Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica), which has longer, narrower leaves and is much more common. Also, their ranges barely overlap, with Virginia Spring Beauty absent from most of the North Shore, but extending into central Minnesota and south from Itasca County to the Iowa border.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Cook County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Cook and Lake counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Fran - Oberg Mountain
on: 2011-05-23 21:23:32

Hiked Oberg Mountain, Monday, May 23 in afternoon and saw numerous plants in bloom. Took many photos, but not yet downloaded. Really spectacular. Thanks for the wonderful website to help identify plant sightings.

Posted by: Kim - Battle Creek Park
on: 2013-04-21 20:07:33

There were quite a few of these flowers, last year 2012, right off the trail in the front lot off of 10 61 by the bike trail next to the rock.

Posted by: Nick - Lutsen, Cook County
on: 2013-05-26 14:05:45

Hiked Oberg Mountain today and saw many of these blooming. Covering the forest floor, it was one of the only things blooming in this late spring.

Posted by: Bob - W of Judge Magney SP in woods N or Lake Superior
on: 2014-06-05 09:33:52

Very nice patch along private trail in woods near Judge Magney State Park. Seems to be thriving over the years.

Posted by: Todd - Toimi Minnesota
on: 2015-04-07 22:08:04

These "beauties" thrive on my property.

Posted by: AJ Moses - Jackson Lake Road - just off the Arrowhead Trail
on: 2017-05-28 20:39:30

Many plants in bloom - we walked about 3 miles - these beauties were everywhere. Plants looked healthy.

Posted by: Marisa - Lake County
on: 2018-05-20 20:58:29

My cousin's property along Silver Creek, just off Highway 2 in Lake County, is covered in these. I've never seen them at my dad's place, which is not far away off Highway 3 but is more swampy.

Posted by: Joe L - Crosby Manitou State Park
on: 2018-06-04 08:31:30

small cluster of about 5 plants along side the trail.

Posted by: Peter - Superior National Forest, near Trout Lake
on: 2019-05-25 20:46:48

I found a large area of these in bloom at the top of the ridge near Trout Lake, a few miles east of the Gunflint Trail. The forest in this area is dominated by mature sugar maples, with a fairly open forest floor.

Posted by: Marissa Sienko - Jay Cooke State Park
on: 2019-05-27 23:55:57

I was hiking along the Silver Creek Trail at Jay Cooke State Park and stumbled upon these little beauties! I took a picture and put it as my phone wallpaper. It had been bugging me not knowing what these were but I found them on this website! I found many that had that same pinkish striped pattern, but none matched until I found this Carolina Spring Beauty! If you come across these, be sure to snap a pic!

Posted by: gary - Cook County
on: 2019-06-01 22:17:23

All throughout the sugar maple forest on Leveaux Mountain.

Posted by: Janene Roessler - Root River Bike Trail near Old Barn Resort, Fillmore County
on: 2020-04-19 12:51:18

How can I send a photo?

Posted by: Julie - Superior Hiking Trail 270 terminus, Cook County
on: 2024-05-20 12:56:44

Hiking the SHT terminus, and so a mass of spring beauties on the trail

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