Stellaria calycantha (Northern Stitchwort) - photos and description


Leaves opposite.

Patch of many plants in above photo.

Patch of many plants in above photo.

General: Rhizomatous, weak-stemmed perennial with a matted / sprawling growth habit. Plants often branching above. Stems flat.

Flowers: Flowers single, from upper leaf axils, greenish, no petals - sepals only, we measured a flower at 4 mm diameter.

Leaves: Leaves opposite, ciliate (otherwise plants are glabrous). The leaves are largest in the middle of the stem, shorter towards the top and bottom of stems. Leaves oblong-elliptical, the leaf highlighted in the photo above was 31 mm long by 9 mm wide.

Height: Stem length is listed in Budd's Flora to 50 cm, we measured plants to 17 cm tall.

Habitat: Shady woodlands.

Abundance: Ranked as an S5 (common) by the Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre. I've only seen this in one location, so it has been quite rare in my experience.

Origin: Native.

How to identify this Stitchwort: Petals nil, leaves lanceolate (Taxonomic Reminder for Recognizing Saskatchewan Plants).

Synonym: Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Saskatchewan lists Stellaria borealis as a synonym. As of 2017, the U of S Fraser Herbarium has historically listed specimens of this species as S. calycantha, then as S. borealis, then back again to S. calycanthta. The Flora of North America lists them both as separate species, and the Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre considers S. borealis (not S. calycantha) to be the species found in the province. And just to complicate things further, using the Flora of North America key I found it was quite difficult to distinguish between the two species. So if you find this plant is Saskatchewan, good luck!

When and where photographed: The above photos were taken June 15th, shady, rich forest near creek, disturbed and bare soil underneath spruce trees, Cypress Hills, about 450 km southwest of our home in Regina, SK.

This plant's tiny, floppy growth habit, low-light habitat, and combined with a very windy day, made this a very difficult plant to photograph.