Beauty Rust

The strappy leaves of Virginia Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) can easily be overlooked. But do look closer:

This is Spring Beauty Rust/Puccinia mariae-wilsoniae. Virginia Spring Beauties come in a range of colors. The pink-flowered ones are more likely to be eaten by slugs. Wet springs, then, can result in fewer pink flowers. The white-flowered ones have more flavenols, which deter herbivory. But white flowered ones don’t necessarily prevail because they are more likely to be attacked by this parasitic rust. A given population of flowers can therefore switch back and forth in flower color-prevelence. Carol Gracie told this story well in her book Spring Wildflowers.

A few of these small wildflowers were blooming March 9th, but then it got cold again and they stopped opening up.

Spring officially arrived here late yesterday afternoon…

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