Watch where you step! Hikers have been reporting seeing woodland fairies eating tiny roasted potatoes in the woodlands!
No, they’re not miniature russet potatoes, but tubers, from tiny, yet beautiful native woodland flowers called Spring Beauty, Claytonia virginica. These wildflowers are white with pink streaking. They provide pollen and nectar to early pollinators and have an oligolege (try saying that two times fast!). An oligolege is an insect that feeds mainly on the pollen and nectar of one plant or a specific family of plants. The oligolege of the Spring Beauty is a tiny mason bee called the Spring Beauty Andrena!
This flower blooms early in the spring, and then becomes dormant for the rest of the year. Their leaves die back and only their roots go on living in a slowed growth state until the next spring, plants that do this are called spring ephemerals.
If you don’t find them in the woodlands, that often means that woodland has been plowed or heavily disturbed at one point, or that area had been a prairie and was shaded out by trees when fire was suppressed.
Spring Beauties grow from seed as well as tiny little tubers, that chipmunks and other rodents love to eat. They are so small that some people call them fairy potatoes!
They bloom till mid-May, so make sure you give yourself a chance to see these beauties before they go back to sleep!