Claytonia virginica (Virginia Spring Beauty)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Portulacaceae (Purslane)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade; moist woods
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:3 to 6 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

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

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in a raceme at the top of the plant that elongates to several inches as the plant matures. Each flower is ½ inch across with 5 pale pink to white petals with darker pink veins, and 5 stamens with deep pink tips. The flowers close up at night and on cloudy days. Closed flowers and buds nod down and become erect when the flower opens. One plant has a single cluster of 5 or more flowers, though not all may be open at the same time.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] A single pair of leaves are oppositely attached about midway up the stem. There may also be a few leaves around the base of the plant. Leaves are very narrow, up to 6 inches long and ¼ inch wide, have a prominent central vein, smooth edges, and curve downward.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a round capsule containing a few round seeds.


A similar species is Carolina Spring Beauty (Claytonia caroliniana) but leaves on the latter are shorter and much wider, and is a much less common plant.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Battle Creek Park, Ramsey County, and Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, Rice County, and in Mille Lacs County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


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

Posted by: Donn H
on: 2009-05-08 05:53:57

This plant is seen growing in Douglas County at Lake Carlos State Park, Minnesota

Posted by: Jim - Hopkins
on: 2010-04-11 22:31:47

I saw several of these plants today (Sunday, April 11) while on a walk.

Posted by: Brian - St. Peter
on: 2013-12-24 18:11:20

This plant was abundant at Bur Oak Wildlife Management Area in Le Sueur County in May 2013 (it would probably be earlier in a more normal season). It was the most abundant spring ephemeral at the site (though not distributed throughout the entire site), followed by Dutchman's Breeches.

Posted by: Brian - St. Peter
on: 2014-05-08 08:57:54

Spring Beauties are flowering heavily at Bur Oak WMA in Le Sueur County right now, often forming a carpet on the forest floor. If someone else visits, they occur almost exclusively in approximately the northwest quarter of the easternmost wooded section of the WMA.Dutchman's Breeches and Bloodroot are also in bloom there. I'll also note that I have not yet visited the western forested section of the WMA, which is separated from the eastern section by water.

Posted by: cindy - twin cities metro
on: 2015-05-20 19:50:24

There were lots of these blooming along the Terrace Loop trail in Wild River State Park the weekend of May 9.

Posted by: Shelby - Rice County
on: 2016-05-08 13:07:35

Found several of these blooming in the middle of the Hope Trail loop at Nerstrand-Big Woods St Pk.

Posted by: Timothy - Brooklyn Park
on: 2016-05-16 11:11:10

The forest floor on Oberg Mountain near Lutzen, MN was resplendent with Claytonia virginica yesterday on a sunny Sunday afternoon 5/15/16.

Posted by: Douglas S - Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
on: 2017-05-02 21:04:00

5/2/2017 Several blooming along trail to Hidden Falls.

Posted by: Carolyn M - NW Fillmore County
on: 2017-05-08 08:47:45

I found these growing in a part of the lawn that was not mowed for about three weeks. Semi-shade near a birch tree (we planted). I will search for more in a lightly wooded area nearby. Flowers were petite light pink. I tried to dig to move to a less disturbed area, but don't know if that will work.

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