Leaving work today, I saw a small patch of these amongst some tulips, outside my office. Glad I had my camera with me.
This most attractive spring perennial is spectacular in large patches. It grows from an underground tuber-like small potato; this has a sweet, chestnut-like flavor. Indigenous Americans and colonists used them for food and they are still enjoyed by those interested in edible wild plants.
The genus is named for John Clayton, 1694-1773, who was a Colonial plant collector and tobacco farmer in Virginia. He came to the “colonies in 1715 to join his father who was an attorney. He became clerk of the courts for Gloucester County, Virginia in 1720, married Elizabeth Whiting and soon after that began to collect plant specimens and have eight kids, not necessarily in that order; three daughters and five sons, some involved in the formation of the United States. Clayton sent many plant specimens but no kids to Europe where the specimens were studied by scholars. In Clayton’s honor, Linnaeus named the Spring Beauty after him.
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