The spring beauties (Claytonia) in Michigan

TitleThe spring beauties (Claytonia) in Michigan
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1968
AuthorsVoss EG
JournalMichigan Botanist

The collections of the past 11 seasons have shown that the ranges of our two species of Claytonia do meet, indeed overlap, across the middle of the state; that both species, neither one clearly more so than the other, are extremely variable morphologically and in flower color, which ranges from white to deep pink; that leaf shape seems to be the only consistent distinguishing character--and even this is occasionally ambiguous; and that when both species grow together, C. virginica reaches the peak of its flowering later by perhaps a few days--no longer--than C. caroliniana. This report documents in some detail the distribution of the two species in Michigan, with special reference to the area of overlap and to unusual occurrences, with some additional data from Ontario and neighboring states. I hope that, as a result of these data, botanists in the region will become interested in pursuing the important as yet unanswered questions: Why are the ranges what they are? Given that climatic or historical factors may explain the general ranges of the species, then why in the zone of overlap does one woods usually have only one of them while a nearby woods has only the other? Do the two species in fact hybridize? What normally prevents hybridization when the two grow together? What is the range of cytological diversity which they exhibit and is it correlated in any way with the geographical range or with morphological variability? Are there some unrecognized but better or more consistent characters than leaf shape to distinguish the species and to identify hybrids? Research on the "Claytonia problem" is barely begun in the local flora, even though we know very much more about the occurrence of the species than we did 12 years ago!