Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saxon-Norman-Broad, Wilkes County, Georgia: Virginia Springbeauty (Claytonia virginica)

March 23rd, 2012. We had a few hours. The weather wasn’t great but we felt like getting out. So we drove one of the back roads in Wilkes County, Georgia. We drove out to Lexington on US-78 and turned north on GA-77 to the road marked as the Saxon-Mattox Road. It’s the last road before the Broad River crossing. This road runs from Saxon to Norman and then to Broad. On DeLorme’s Georgia Atlas & Gazetteer, the road begins as Goose Pond Road and then becomes CR-113 to Norman. The section from Norman to Broad is Norman Rd NE. We didn’t really expect to see much but we were really in for a pleasant surprise. This road runs roughly parallel to the Broad River through dry pine and deciduous forests. Periodically the road dips to cross creeks that drain into the Broad River.

We encountered the spring beauties in the moist areas on either side of the creeks. Their pink, cup-shaped blooms were clearly visible above the grass by the side of the road and in the adjacent fields.

The plants themselves appeared insignificant. It was difficult to distinguish the leaves from the grass blades because Claytonia virginica has such slender leaves. Note the Poison Ivy to the left of the claytonia; it's that time of year again!

A side view of the plant showing the raceme arrangement of the flowers

Closer views of the flowers.

Variations in the shape of the petals of some flowers.

Claytonia virginica
is native to the United States and is found from Quebec to Texas. In Georgia, it has been found in several counties across the state although not in the coastal plain counties. It has not been documented in Wilkes County although, clearly, it occurs there. We found it in the surrounds at every creek crossing along this road. Although usually called Spring Beauty, I prefer the name Virginia Springbeauty to differentiate this species from the 28 Claytonia species that may be found in the United States

Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:

- Southeastern Flora:
Claytonia virginica (Spring Beauty)
- Name that Plant
: Claytonia virginica (Spring Beauty)

- University of Norh Carolina Herbarium
: Claytonia virginica
- USDA Plants Database: Claytonia virginica (Virginia Springbeauty)

Related post:

- Saxon-Norman-Broad, Wilkes County, Georgia: Prostrate Blue Violet, Green-and-gold & Trumpet Honeysuckle

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