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Claytonia

Claytonia sibirica - Siberian springbeauty (pink purslane, candy flower)

Claytonia sibirica © Susanna

Early in the summer, the ground in Alppiruusulaakso (Rhododendron Valley) and Terassi (Terrace) is covered with pinkish white flowers which keep popping up here and there through the summer, blooming more abundantly again when autumn rains arrive. If you bend down you may see the magenta veins in the petals, and you may even find completely white flowers.

The Siberian springbeauty is an annual or semi-annual herb that thrives in shady and moist, humous sites. Its short life may pass unnoticed as new plants are sprouting all the time. Ants disperse it around in return of the nutritious elaiosome. In ten years the Siberian springbeauty has fully adapted itself to Mustila and acts as any native plant. It appears that the Siberian springbeauty, escaping to herb-rich forest, may quickly become an aggressive invader that upsets the natural balance and is practically impossible to weed out. A responsible gardener should think again where to plant Siberian springbeauty, if at all.

The latin name is derived from John Clayton, one of the first American botanists in the 1700s. Native North Americans have been said to eat the leaves, stems and flowers of Siberian springbeauty like lettuce, and the plant must have helped fight scurvy. Siberian springbeauty also grows on Commander Islands off the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East, from where it was originally brought to Mustila.

 

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