The final natural site we visited during our group trip to the southeast USA a few weeks ago was the Rock and Shoals Outcrop Natural Area near Athens, Georgia. Like many of the sites we visited, we heard “You should have been here three weeks ago” for the best flower displays, as the warm spring had advanced everything by several weeks. Still, we found a number of species of interest, including this Virginia dwarf-dandelion in fruit. It’s intriguing structure combined with a bit of morning dew made it a favourite for many photographers that day.
To give a sense of scale, this plant is only about 15cm (6 in.) tall. Many additional photographs showing plants throughout much of the life cycle are available from MissouriPlants: Krigia virginica. For a photograph of a plant resembling a dandelion when losing its seeds, see the blog “Anybody Seen My Focus?”: Virginia dwarf-dandelion.
The USDA PLANTS database shows this taxon as occurring throughout much of the eastern USA, as well as occurring in Quebec and British Columbia. The Database of Vascular Plants of Canada notes that the presence of Krigia virginica in Quebec is doubtful, while the British Columbia occurrences are from introduced plants (mapped via E-Flora BC: Krigia virginica).
The Flora of North America entry for Krigia virginica notes the potential for this annual to become an introduction beyond its range, because of “its weedy habit”. Other sites, like the Prairie Wildflowers of Illinois, comment that it “is an adorable little plant” and the MissouriPlants site suggests it “would look good in a cultivated rock garden”.
FNA also makes note of an interesting morphological tidbit: “Plants collected late in the season have a branching habit remarkably unlike the scapiform vernal form”. Today’s photograph is of the typical scapiform vernal form, that is, a spring-flowering plant (vernal) with a inflorescence on a single, leafless stalk (scape).