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Spring beauty

Claytonia virginica

Claytonia virginica

Regular price $6.48 USD
Regular price Sale price $6.48 USD
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Size

Sun/shade: Full sun to full shade

Soil moisture: Medium to wet

Height: 0.5"

Spread: 0.5'

Flowering period: April

In April, spring beauty’s pink and white blooms bring a soft infusion of color to the forests and fields of northeast Ohio. An ephemeral species, the plant rapidly fades after its blooming period ends, and by summer no trace of leaves or stems remains. Like other spring ephemerals, spring beauty blooms before trees have fully leafed out, taking advantage of the increased light availability of the open forest canopy. For this reason, spring beauty can be planted in the full shade of a tree even though the plant requires a greater degree of sunlight in the springtime. As long as the tree in question sheds its leaves, spring beauty will have the sunlight it needs. In terms of soil conditions, spring beauty does best in soils of moderate moisture. The plant spreads through self-seeding as well as asexually via offsets from its bulb, forming large colonies under ideal conditions. Due to its showy flowers and dainty form, spring beauty is appropriate for both formal and naturalized gardens.

In natural situations, the primary pollinator of spring beauties is the spring beauty mining bee. The bee’s larvae require the pollen of spring beauties as their food source, and the bee’s life history is therefore closely aligned with that of the plant. The geographical range of the bee and plant are virtually identical, as are the nesting time of the former and the blooming period of the latter. If one’s garden is near a woodland that also harbors spring beauties, then one’s own plants will likely attract the spring beauty mining bee.

Another important pollinator of spring beauties is the bee fly. These unusual creatures have a very long snout and a stout furry body like that of a little bear. The bee fly’s dense hair insulates it, allowing it to be active during cool temperatures early in the year. Bee flies have the ability to obtain nectar while hovering, making their floral visits especially interesting to observe. Due to their early bloom time, spring beauties are an excellent food source for flower-visiting insects at a time of year when floral resources can be scarce. In all, over 100 species of insects have been documented visiting spring beauties.

Photos by Ashley Keesling.

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