Spring Beauty (Claytonia lanceolata) is a lovely little early-bloomer along Colorado’s Front Range. The information I’ve gathered says it is commonly found at upper elevations, but I’ve only ever seen it in the foothill zone, most often in the shade and among the fallen leaves of Gambel Oak trees.

Spring Beauty, South Valley Park

The leaves of this plant are edible and high in vitamin C and the corm (a thick, underground, tuber-like stem) can be baked, steamed, dried, or ground into a flour, earning it the nickname “Indian Potato.”

Spring Beauty, Gateway Mesa Open Space

Spring Beauty, Gateway Mesa Open Space

Spring Beauty, Gateway Mesa Open Space

Spring Beauty, Gateway Mesa Open Space

Spring Beauty, Gateway Mesa Open Space

Spring Beauty, Gateway Mesa Open Space

Spring Beauty’s closely-related cousin, Alpine Spring Beauty (Claytonia megarhiza) grows in abundance among the rocks of Colorado’s harsh alpine tundra areas, high above treeline. The plant survives in this unforgiving zone by sending down an incredibly  long taproot. (“Megarhiza” is Greek for “long roots”).

Alpine Spring Beauty, Mount Evans

Alpine Spring Beauty, Mount Evans

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