Stellaria pubera Michx. - Giant Chickweed

Stellaria pubera plant

Family - Caryophyllaceae

Stems - Sprawling to erect, multiple from thick roots, branching above, herbaceous, to +20cm tall, with minute longitudinal ribs, reddish-purple, with pubescence in one or two distinct longitudinal lines, or pilose (pubescence multicellular).

Stellaria pubera stemStem.

Leaves - Opposite, sessile to very short-petiolate, lanceolate, oblong, narrowly ovate, or oblanceolate, to +3cm long, +1cm broad, entire, glabrous but typically with ciliate margins on lower half of blade, acute at apex.

Stellaria pubera leaf

Inflorescence - Single flowers from between opposite stems. Peduncles elongating in fruit to 2.5cm, -1mm in diameter, densely pubescent with pubescence in two opposing longitudinal lines.

Flowers - Corolla rotate. Petals 5, white, deeply notched and appearing as ten petals, free, to +6mm long, glabrous. Stamens 10, anthers orange-red. Styles 3. Ovary globose, superior. Sepals 5, free, green with slightly lighter margins, lanceolate, to 5mm long, 2.5mm broad, glabrous or sparse pilose. Fruit a globose capsule dehiscent by 4 valves. Seeds with free-central placentation.

Stellaria pubera calyxCalyx close-up.

Stellaria pubera flowerFlower close-up.

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Dry to moist low woods.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - To me this is one of the best looking plants of the genus. Typically this genus is weedy and troublesome but this species is native and adds a surprisingly brilliant splash of white for such a small plant. I don't know if it is cultivated, but it would make a neat border.

Photographs taken in Brown Summit, NC., 4-6-03.


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