Western Springbeauty
Claytonia lanceolata Pursh
Family: Portulacaceae, Purslane
Genus: Claytonia
Synonyms:
Other names: lanceleaf springbeauty, spring beauty
Nomenclature: lanceolata = lance shaped (leaves)
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Edible plant
No medicinal data
Description

General: delicate, fleshy, hairless perennial, 5-20 cm tall, partly underground, from a usually rather deep-seated, almost round bulb-like corm 5-20 mm in diameter.

Leaves: basal commonly 1 or 2, sometimes lacking, narrowly to broadly oblanceolate, 2-15 mm broad, up to 15 cm long, including the underground portion of the slender stalk. Stem leaves 2, opposite, stalkless, ovate to narrowly lanceolate, 5-20 mm broad and 1.5-6 cm long.

Flowers: about 3-20 in loose clusters, sometimes compound, the stalks 1-5 cm long, usually curved back in fruit. The 2 sepals 2.5-5 mm long, up to 7 mm in fruit. The 5 petals from nearly pure white or pinkish-lined to pink, joined for 1-2 mm at base, 7-12 mm long. Stamens 5, attached at the base to the petals. Styles 3. April-July.

Fruits: capsules, ovoid, firm-walled, about 4 mm long. Seeds 3-6, black and shiny, 2-2.5 mm long, with very indistinct warty bumps, and a fairly evident appendage.


Distribution

Sagebrush foothills to alpine slopes, usually where moist at least early in the spring, in w. and c. parts of MT. Also from B.C. and Alberta to s. CA and NM.
Edible Uses

The leaves of western springbeauty are a source of vitamins A and C, and the corms are said to taste like mild radishes when raw and like potatoes when cooked. The crisp corms were a special treat after a long, hard winter. They were dug in spring, just after the plants had flowered, and they were eaten raw or cooked. They can also be dried, ground into a powder and stored for later use.



Sub taxa:

1 Stem leaves narrowly lanceolate, at least 5 times as long as broad, rarely over 1 cm broad. Stems many, the corms 1-4 cm broad. Yellowstone Nat. Park and vicinity, but not to the exclusion of var. lanceolata.
var. multiscapa (Rydb. ) C. L. Hitchc.

1 Stem leaves broader, from usually elliptic-lanceolate to sometimes ovate-lanceolate, commonly less than 5 times as long as broad. Stems 1-several, the corms rarely as much as 2 cm broad. Range of the species.
var. lanceolata Pursh

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