Such is Spring-beauty, whose name tells its story. In early spring groves of these small, pink flowers welcome the winter-weary, who head for the woods in search of the season of new life. The flowers seem so delicate – and in a sense, are, since they will quickly wilt if picked. Yet they are able to withstand freezing nights and raw days.
The Indians’ interest in Spring-beauty was more practical than esthetic. They knew that down below, the plant’s little round corm offered food, sweet and a bit nutlike, and wearing a skin like a potato. Indeed, they have been called wild potatoes. But an even better name, so typical of wonderful old English-language folk names for wildflowers, is fairy-spuds.