Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Last week, on our hike at Mt. Pleasant Farm, my sons and I noticed the most delightful little wildflowers growing beside the trail. The plant with the tiny pink five-petalled flower is known as the Eastern spring beauty (Claytonia virginica). It's a common early-blooming perennial and thrives in a variety of habitats.
Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist whose scientific naming convention is what we use today, chose the spring beauty's binomial Latin form in honor of John Clayton, the English-born botanist and Virginia county court clerk who collected specimens in the American colonies and sent them to Europe for study.
Clayton's well-preserved specimens are stored at the Natural History Museum in London. You can see a digital version of his original specimen of Claytonia virginica here.
We saw the spring beauty growing in dense patches near a downed tree. The wildflowers grow from underground tubers that Native Americans and early colonists used as a food source. Wild-plant foragers continue to enjoy the potato-like root, which reportedly tastes like chestnuts and is a good source of Vitamins A and C. The spring beauty's leaves are also edible.
I don't think I'll be foraging and eating the wildflower's roots. I'll just enjoy the spring beauty as a sweet consolation for missing wildflower season in my home state of Texas this year.
I wonder what wildflowers have been popping up in your neck of the woods?
Local chatter from ZenCrafter at 1:33 AM