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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 4 | Portulacaceae

3. Claytonia Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 204. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 96. 1754.

Spring beauty [for John Clayton, 1686-1773, physician and plant collector in Virginia]

John M. Miller

Belia Steller ex J. G. Gmelin; Limnia Haworth

Herbs, usually annual or perennial, occasionally biennial in Claytonia rubra. Roots branched, capillary or fibrous. Stems: subterranean stems tubers, rhizomes, or woody caudices, sometimes with multiple forms on single individuals (e.g., C. umbellata and C. tuberosa); aerial stems erect or decumbent; nodes glabrous. Leaves basal and cauline, not articulate at base, somewhat to markedly clasping, attachment points linear; basal leaves few to several in rosettes, blade linear, lanceolate, oblanceolate, spatulate, trullate, rhomboid, ovate, or deltate, apex obtuse to apiculate; cauline leaves 2 and opposite, rarely 3 and whorled, distinct or partially or completely connate, or perfoliate, blade linear to ovate. Inflorescences terminal, racemose or umbellate, secund, bracteate; bracts leaflike or membranous and scalelike. Flowers showy; sepals persistent, leaflike, unequal; petals 5; stamens 5, adnate to petal bases; ovary globose, ovules 3 or 6; style 1; stigmas 3. Capsules 3-valved, longitudinally dehiscent from apex, valves not deciduous, margins hygroscopic, involute. Seeds (1-)3-6, black, rounded, shiny and smooth to tuberculate, with white elaiosome; seeds dispersed ballistically and by ants. x = 5, 6, 7, 8.

Species 26 (25 in the flora): North America, (including Mexico), Central America (Guatemala), Asia; adventive in Europe and New Zealand. A related species, Claytonia joanneana Roemer & Schultes, occurs in the Altai Mountains of Siberia and Mongolia.


Chambers, K. L. 1993. Claytonia. In: J. C. Hickman, ed. 1993. The Jepson Manual. Higher Plants of California. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London. Pp. 898-900. Davis, R. G. 1966. The North American perennial species of Claytonia. Brittonia 18: 285-303. Doyle, J. J. 1984. Karyotypic variation of eastern North American Claytonia chemical races. Amer. J. Bot. 71: 970-978. Halleck, D. K. and D. Wiens. 1966. Taxonomic status of Claytonia rosea and C. lanceolata (Portulacaceae). Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 53: 205-212. Lewis, W. H. 1967. Cytocatalytic evolution in plants. Bot. Rev. (Lancaster) 33: 105-115. Lewis, W. H., R. L. Oliver, and Y. Suda. 1967. Cytogeography of Claytonia virginica and its allies. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 54: 153-171. Lewis, W. H. and Y. Suda. 1968. Karyotypes in relation to classification and phylogeny in Claytonia. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 55: 64-67. McNeill, J. 1972. New taxa of Claytonia section Claytonia (Portulacaceae). Canad. J. Bot. 50: 1895-1898. Miller, J. M. and K. L. Chambers. 1993. Nomenclatural changes and new taxa in Claytonia (Portulacaceae) in western North America. Novon 3: 268-273. Packer, J. G., ed. 1995+. Flora of the Russian Arctic.... 3+ vols. Edmonton. Vol. 3, pp. 195-204.

1 Plants annual, sometimes biennial, with minute, tuberous bodies   (2)
+ Plants perennial, with stolons, rhizomes, tubers, or woody caudices   (10)
2 (1) Inflorescences with 2-several bracts (rarely only 2); proximalmost bract leaflike, distal bracts leaflike or reduced to membranous scales   (3)
+ Inflorescence ebracteate or 1-bracteate; bract leaflike   (5)
3 (2) Flowers 4-8 mm diam.; petals not candy-striped; basal leaf blades rhombic or ovate   25 Claytonia washingtoniana
+ Flowers 8-20 mm diam.; petals white, candy-striped, or pink; basal leaf blades linear to deltate   (4)
4 (3) Cauline leaf blades linear; distal bracts reduced to membranous scales; seeds (1-)6   3 Claytonia arenicola
+ Cauline leaf blades broad; distal bracts leaflike; seeds (1-)3   21 Claytonia sibirica (in part)
5 (2) Flowers 10-15 mm diam.; inflorescences ebracteate   19 Claytonia saxosa
+ Flowers 2-12 mm diam.; inflorescences 1-bracteate   (6)
6 (5) Basal leaf blades usually trullate or rhombic to deltate, sometimes spatulate, less than 3 times longer than wide   (7)
+ Basal leaf blades usually linear, sometimes spatulate, blade much longer than wide   (8)
7 (6) Basal rosettes flattened to suberect; leaf blades trullate, spatulate, or narrowly rhombic to ovate, apex obtuse, red pigmentation often strong even in juvenile plants   17 Claytonia rubra
+ Basal rosettes suberect to erect, seldom flattened; leaf blades broadly rhombic to deltate or reniform, apex obtuse to apiculate, red pigmentation often weak   15 Claytonia perfoliata
8 (6) Seeds often smooth or with low tubercles, not pebbly; leaf blades not glau- cous, green or pink   14 Claytonia parviflora
+ Seeds often tuberculate and pebbly; leaf blades glaucous, gray, beige, or pink   (9)
9 (8) Flowers 3-5 mm diam   6 Claytonia exigua
+ Flowers 6-12 mm diam   7 Claytonia gypsophiloides
10 (1) Plants with tubers sometimes connected by rhizomes   (11)
+ Plants with rhizomes or woody caudices   (19)
11 (10) Bracts 2 or more, distal bracts leaflike or reduced to membranous scales; cauline leaves often strongly tapered in basal 1/2   (12)
+ Bracts 1 or absent, (rarely 2 in C. caroliniana); cauline leaves seldom tapered in no more than basal 1/4   (15)
12 (11) Bracts all leaflike; tubers napiform   12 Claytonia ogilviensis
+ Proximalmost bract leaflike, distal bracts reduced to membranous scales; tubers globose   (13)
13 (12) Petals white with yellow blotch at base   22 Claytonia tuberosa (in part)
+ Petals white, pink, rose, magenta, cream, yellow, or yellow-orange, lacking yellow blotch at base   (14)
14 (13) Petals pink, rose, or magenta   16 Claytonia rosea
+ Petals white, cream, yellow, or yellow-orange   10 Claytonia multiscapa
15 (11) Bracts absent; petals pink to magenta   23 Claytonia umbellata
+ Bracts present; petals white, white with yellow blotch at base, yellow, orange, or candy-striped (sometimes pink, rose, or magenta in C. caroliniana, C. lanceolata, and C. virginica)   (16)
16 (15) Cauline leaf blades linear, 0.2-1.2 cm wide, tapered to slender base   (17)
+ Cauline leaf blades lanceolate or spatulate to ovate, 0.4-2.5 cm wide, abruptly petiolate or sessile   (18)
17 (16) Petals white, pinkish, or rose, candy-striped, rarely yellow or orange, or white with pink-lavender candy-stripes; e North America to Texas   24 Claytonia virginica
+ Petals white with yellow blotch at base; Alaska, Yukon   22 Claytonia tuberosa (in part)
18 (16) Basal leaves 6-21; cauline leaves petiolate; e North America   4 Claytonia caroliniana
+ Basal leaves 1-6 or absent; cauline leaves sessile; w North American cordillera   8 Claytonia lanceolata
19 (10) Plants with woody caudices   (20)
+ Plants rhizomatous   (22)
20 (19) Basal leaves and bracts with apex acute; petals white or pink to bright rose with yellow blotches at base, or white   1 Claytonia acutifolia
+ Basal leaves and bracts (where present) with apex obtuse; petals usually pink to magenta, sometimes yellow or white   (21)
21 (20) Stems 1-10 cm; bracts absent; Alaska   2 Claytonia arctica
+ Stems 10-50 cm; bracts present; not in Alaska   9 Claytonia megarhiza
22 (19) Bracts present; seeds (1-)3   (23)
+ Bracts absent; seeds (1-)6   (24)
23 (22) Cauline leaves equal, sessile, blade lanceolate to ovate; basal leaf blades 1-5 cm wide   21 Claytonia sibirica (in part)
+ Cauline leaves unequal, petiolate, blade linear to spatulate; basal leaf blades 0.1-1 cm wide   13 Claytonia palustris
24 (22) Rhizomes 0.5-3 mm diam.; Alaska, Yukon, n British Columbia   (25)
+ Rhizomes 4-8 mm diam.; w United States   (26)
25 (24) Basal leaf baldes linear to narrowly spatualte, 1-10 × 0.1-1 cm   20 Claytonia scammaniana
+ Basal leaf blades elliptic to spatulate, 1-8 × 1-2 cm   18 Claytonia sarmentosa
26 (24) Basal leaf blades deltate to ovate or cordate; cauline leaf blades 1-5 cm; petals white   5 Claytonia cordifolia
+ Basal leaf blades spatulate to rhombic or ovate; cauline leaf blades 0.5-2 cm; petals pink to magenta   11 Claytonia nevadensis

  • List of lower taxa


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