Claytonia

Claytonia is a genus of mostly North American species considered by some to belong in the new Montiaceae family and previously and still sometimes seen listed in the Portulacaceae family. Some of the species are annuals, some are tuberous, and some have rhizomes or woody caudices. Many of the tubers are edible and some of the species have edible foliage.


Claytonia caroliniana Michx. is found in moist rich woods of the eastern mountains of Canada and the United States and extends westward to Minnesota. It has broad, oval to oblong leaves and pink or white flowers with darker pink veins in a loose cluster in the upper part of the stem. The tubers can be eaten like potatoes. Photos by John Lonsdale.

Claytonia caroliniana, John LonsdaleClaytonia caroliniana, John LonsdaleClaytonia caroliniana, John Lonsdale

Claytonia lanceolata Pall. ex Pursh, another species with an edible tuber, is native to spring moist, sagebrush foothills to alpine slopes in Canada and the United States. This species has a more western distribution (British Columbia to California, east to Alberta and New Mexico.) It has short clusters of usually white to pink five-petaled flowers, but can also have pale yellow or orange flowers. It blooms spring into summer.


Claytonia virginica is a woodland species with an edible tuber that has a sweet, chestnut-like flavor. It is native to eastern North America (zone 3 to 8). It is a low plant with loose clusters of pink or whitish flowers, striped pink and grass-like linear leaves. In places where it is happy it naturalizes. Photos below from John Lonsdale of forms with different colored flowers.

Claytonia virginica, John LonsdaleClaytonia virginica, John LonsdaleClaytonia virginica, John LonsdaleClaytonia virginica, John Lonsdale
Claytonia virginica, John LonsdaleClaytonia virginica, John LonsdaleClaytonia virginica, John LonsdaleClaytonia virginica, John Lonsdale

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