Claytonia scammaniana is a delicate perennial forb in the purslane family (Portulacaceae) that grows (seemingly miraculously) in very steep, rocky scree slopes and slide-rock. Claytonia scammaniana has beautiful five-petalled glossy pink flowers and grows 4-6 cm high, arising from a filiform rhizome. Basal leaves are linear to oblanceolate, fleshy, with a hyaline sheath at the base. Stem leaves are opposite, sessile and narrowly elliptical. The inflorescence consists of 1 to 2 purplish to pink flowers with 5 petals and 2 sepals. Fruits are a dry green capsule, splitting along the seams to release seeds. The other pink-flowered member of the genus Claytonia in Denali is Claytonia sarmentosa, which is found in moister lush meadow habitats, has more basal leaves and generally broader leaves.
This species flowers in early summer in Denali.
Claytonia scammaniana is monoecious with bisexual flowers. Flowers are insect pollinated, most likely by flies, bees or wasps. Seeds are flung out when capsules split open. Seeds have a prominent elaiosome—a lipid-rich food-packet that attracts ants, who carry the seed to their nest, remove the elaiosome and leave the seed intact to germinate.
Claytonia scammaniana is endemic to the mountains of Alaska, where it occurs in the Alaska Range, Brooks Range and White mountains, with isolated stations in southwestern Alaska. In Denali, Claytonia scammaniana occurs in high elevation sites north of the Alaska Range crest and in the Yentna R. and Chulitna R. drainages on the south side.
Claytonia scammaniana is an alpine species that is observed from 936 m to 1787 m, with an average plot elevation of 1316 m. This species shows no strong preference for site aspect but strongly prefers steep slopes with an average plot slope of 27 degrees.