Cerastium velutinum Raf.

Field Chickweed


CC = 4
CW = 3
MOC = 12

© SRTurner

Family - Caryophyllaceae

Habit - Taprooted perennial, sometimes rhizomatous.

Stems - Erect or ascending from a sprawling base, to 40 cm, branched, densely pubescent with both glandular and nonglandular hairs.

Cerastium_velutinum_stem.jpg Stem and node.

© SRTurner

Leaves - Opposite, simple, entire, sessile, 2.0-6.5 cm long, spatulate to narrowly ovate, usually bluntly pointed, pubescent.

Cerastium_velutinum_leaves.jpg Leaves.

© SRTurner

Cerastium_velutinum_leaves2.jpg Leaves.

© SRTurner

Cerastium_velutinum_leaf2.jpg Leaf abaxial.

© SRTurner

Inflorescence - Flowers in open panicles, the stalks 1.2-3.4 cm long, 2-4 times as long as the sepals, erect or ascending, at fruiting usually hooked near the tip, densely pubescent with both glandular and nonglandular hairs, only the uppermost bracts with narrow, thin, white to translucent margins, the others green and herbaceous.

Cerastium_velutinum_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

Missouri's showiest Cerastium.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Sepals 5, 4.5-8.5 mm long, narrowly elliptic, sharply pointed, green with membranous margins, densely pubescent with stalked glands, these not extending past the sepal tips. Petals 5, 10-15 mm long, 2 times as long as the sepals, deeply 2-lobed (1/4-1/3 of the way) at the tip. Stamens 10. Styles 5.

Cerastium_velutinum_calyx.jpg Calyx.

© SRTurner

Cerastium_velutinum_flowers.jpg Flowers.

© SRTurner

Cerastium_velutinum_flower.jpg Flower.

© SRTurner

Cerastium_velutinum_corolla.jpg Flower.

© DETenaglia

Fruits - Cylindrical capsules 10-14 mm long, about 2 times as long as the sepals, curved. Seeds 0.8-1.2 mm wide, the surface tuberculate, brown.

Cerastium_velutinum_fruit.jpg Immature fruit.

© SRTurner

Cerastium_velutinum_fruit2.jpg Dehiscent fruit.

© SRTurner

Cerastium_velutinum_seeds.jpg Seeds.

© SRTurner

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Streambanks, forest openings, pastures, roadsides.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - Cerastium arvense.

Other info. - Plants in the genus Cerastium are usually small and weedy looking, but this is an exception. It is without a doubt the showiest member of the genus in Missouri and certainly the largest-flowered. It is found mostly in the eastern Ozark region of the state. Its range in the U.S. is very limited. There are populations in Missouri, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, but it absent or considered rare everywhere else. This is a beautiful plant and would make a good garden subject.

C. velutinum has in the past been considered a subspecies of C. arvense; however, the two species apparently do not hybridize in the wild and are usually easily distinguished. Many Missouri specimens formerly assigned to C. arvense have recently been redetermined as C. velutinum. Plants found in Missouri belong to the subspecies velutinum. The subspecies villosissimum (Pennell) J.K. Morton is endemic to serpentine outcrops in Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It differs in its denser, broader, more persistent leaves with more dense, shaggy pubescence.

Photographs taken at Silver Mines Recreation Area, Madison County, MO, 3-19-2012, 4-3-2016, and 4-13-2017, 4-28-2020, and 5-21-2020 (SRTurner).