Caryophyllaceae: Pink Family — Stickwort & Sand-spurrey

Stickwort / Starwort – Spergula arvensis

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

10–40+ cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Open grassy areas

Notes:

Common. A smallish, generally delicate branched plant with whorled linear leaves. It has distinctive, pure white, 5-petaled flowers with sepals alternating with and behind each petals, creating the star pattern which gives the plant one of its common names. The stigma is 5-lobed and there are either 5 or 10 stamens. Sometimes known as Spurry.

Boccone’s Sand-spurrey – Spergularia bocconi

Blooms:

Apr–May

Plant Height:

Mat forming

Flower Size:

Very small

Origin:

Europe

Habitat:

Coastal

Notes:

Similar to Sticky Sand-spurrey (Spergularia macrotheca) but much smaller and more delicate. The right hand photo shows both for comparison. Flowers have 8–10 stamens, unlike the very similar Saltmarsh Sand-spurrey (Spergularia marina) which has only 2–5. Leaves are in clusters of 0–2.

Sticky Sand-spurrey – Spergularia macrotheca var. macrotheca

Blooms:

Mar–Oct

Plant Height:

5–35 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Sea bluffs and salt marshes

Notes:

A common coastal plant with white, pink to rosy or even blue  5 -petaled flowers.  The stigma is 3-lobed (unlike the 5-lobed stigma of Stickwort (Spergula arvensis) and there are 9 or 10 stamens (compared to 5 or 10 for Stickwort). Sepals are 4.5–7 mm, the longest of any of the native sand-spurreys.  Narrow, fleshy leaves are 1-2 per cluster.

Red / Purple Sand-spurrey – Spergularia rubra

Blooms:

Apr–Sept

Plant Height:

< 5 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Eurasia

Habitat:

Sunny, sandy places, disturbed areas

Notes:

A common, low-growing plant wth many pink to lavender flowers with green to purplish sepals. Leaves are barely fleshy, 2–4 per cluster. There are 2–10 stamens and, like other Spergularia, it has a 3-lobed stigma.