Botanical Name: Claytonia virginica
Other Common Names: Spring Beauty, Fairy spud
Brief Description and Notes: As the common name indicates, this is a lovely spring-blooming ephemeral plant. In more undisturbed areas it can grow in lush patches and is an excellent choice for native and edible groundcover. Unfortunately, it is less common in areas crowded by invasives and degraded by human agricultural activity, but as seen in the photo below, it does still come up! The leaves are thin and grass-like, and the five-petaled flowers are often light pink with darker streaks.
Where To Look For It: Most common to moist woods, but it can occur in a variety of habitats including a range of sun to shade and dry to moist conditions. Would be an excellent choice to seed into your own yard, as it’s not very picky!
Ornamental Value: Charming small pink flowers in spring; groundcover
Ecological Value & Roles: Food for pollinators (including the adrenid bee who feeds exclusively on this plant), small mammals; as a spring ephemeral may participate in a process of absorbing nutrients quickly that get released later in the season for other plants.
Edibility and Other Human Use: The corms/tubers are edible and extremely delicious. Only harvest if you see the plants are abundant; do not harvest any if it seems rare in your given area. Tubers can be eaten raw or cooked; they taste like a mix between buttery potatoes and chestnuts. The leaves and flowers are technically also edible.