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Native Wildflowers of the North Dakota Grasslands

JPG -- species photo

Grove Sandwort (Arenaria lateriflora)

An easily-overlooked little plant, grove sandwort is also sometimes called "broad-leaved stitchwort." The plant occurs throughout North Dakota and is circumboreal in overall distribution, being recorded as far south as New Mexico in North America.

Grove sandwort is perennial from thin rhizomes. These often-branched plants are seldom over 8 inches tall. Leaves are opposite, elliptic in shape, and about an inch long. The 5-petalled flowers are white and only about 1/4 inch wide. They usually are atop a slender peduncle that bends outward from the main stem. Fruit is a tiny, oval capsule that opens at the tip.

Look for grove sandwort on moist native grassland near brushy thickets during July. I have no information on the effects of grazing on this plant, but suspect that grazing would favor it, as it does its close relatives, the chickweeds. Some Arenarias are used as foods and medicines for bladder ailments, but I found no references to economic uses for grove sandwort.

Grove sandwort is a member of the pink family (Caryophyllaceae). There are about 2,000 species in this family; some like the carnations are horticulturally important. The generic name is from the Latin arena, "sand," in which many members of this genus of about 200 species grow. The specific epithet lateriflora means "flowering on the side" in botanical Latin. Grove sandwort was first described for science by the Swedish father of modern plant taxonomy, Carl von Linne (Linnaeus), in his monumental Species Plantarum of 1753.

Return to Caryophyllaceae (The Pink Family)
Next Species -- Prairie Chickweed (Cerastium arvense)

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