grass-like starwort (Stellaria graminea)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMON NAMES:
grasslike starwort
lesser starwort
grassy starwort
little starwort
grassleaved stichwort
grass-leaf starwort
grass-leaved chickweed

 

SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS:
Alsine graminea (L.) Britt.
Stellaria graminea var. latifolia Peterm.

 

CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.

 

TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of grass-like
starwort is Stellaria graminea L. This is one of the more attractive
chickweeds, particularly when it occurs in colonies, because the

attractive flowers are produced in great abundance and the foliage

is elegant and grass-like. It has a similar appearance to the native

Stellaria longifolia (long-leaved stitchwort). However, this latter

species has sepals that are without conspicuous veins or hair, and

its seeds have a smooth sur- face. Long-leaved stitchwort produces

flowers less abundantly than grass-leaved chickweed, and some of

its flowers develop from the axils of the leaves. There are many

other Stellaria spp. (Chickweeds), as well as Cerastium spp.

(Mouse-Eared Chickweeds), but they often have broader leaves

and hairier foliage.

 

NATIVE STATUS: Introduced, United States and Canada.

 

GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:

 

Habit: This adventive perennial plant is about 1–1½' tall and largely

unbranched, except at the apex where the inflorescence occurs. The

central stem is glabrous, 4-angled, and rather weak, causing the

plant to lean over in the absence of supportive vegetation.

 

Leaves: The opposite leaves are up to 1½" long and 1/3" across.

They are lanceolate-linear or linear, smooth along the margins,

sessile, and glabrous, except for a few hairs near the base of the

lower leaves.

 

Flowers: The central stem terminates in a dichotomously branch-

ing panicle of cymes. A pair of small green bracts occurs where the

panicle branches. Each cyme is rather floppy and consists of 1-3

flowers on slender pedicels. Each flower is about 1/3" across, con-

sisting of a corolla with 5 deeply divided white petals (which can

appear to be 10 petals), 10 stamens with brown or reddish brown

anthers, a green pistil with 3 styles, and 5 green sepals that are lance-

olate. Each sepal has 3 conspicuous veins along its outer surface,

which is also somewhat ciliate or pubescent. The petals of the flower

are longer than the sepals. An abundance of flowers is normally
produced.

 

Fruit/Seeds: Each flower is replaced by a straw-colored or light

brown seed capsule that contains numerous small seeds. This cap-

sule is ovoid-oblongoid in shape and open at the top, where a few

erect teeth occur along the upper rim. Each seed is oval-orbicular

and somewhat flattened; its surface is rough and pebbly.

 

Roots: The root system consists of a shallow taproot and rhizomes. This

plant spreads vegetatively or by reseeding itself, and often forms small

colonies.

 

REGENERATION PROCESS: Grass-like starwort propogates it-

self by reseeding and spreads vegetatively through rhizomes.

 

HABITAT TYPES: It is adventive from Europe. Habitats include old
fields, grassy meadows, and roadsides. This plant competes well against
Kentucky bluegrass and similar grass species, but broad-leafed forbs have
a tendency to cast too much shade for it to flourish. Grass-like starwort is
found primarily in disturbed areas.

 

SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Typical growing conditions are full sun
and moist to mesic soil. Grass-like starwort grows quite well in loam or
clay-loam.

 

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs from late
spring to early summer and lasts about a month.

 

GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Grass-like starwort has a species that
has a disjunctive distribution. It is found primarily in the eastern portions
of the United States and Canada, extending west through the Ohio Valley
and into most, but not all, of the Prairie states and provinces. It is also
distributed along the Pacific far west, from California north to British
Columbia. However, it is absent from the Gulf Coast states through the
southwest, and absent from portions of the Rocky Mountain region and
some areas of the northern Great Plains.

 

SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.

 

IMPORTANCE AND USES: The nectar and pollen of the flowers

attract small bees and flies primarily. The caterpillars of several moth

species feed on the foliage of Chickweeds, including Agrostis vener-

abilis (venerable dart), Lobocleta ossularia (drab brown wave), and

Haematopis grataria (chickweed geometer). Mourning doves and

various sparrows occasionally eat the seeds of chickweeds, while rab-

bits eat the foliage.

 

 

Back to Inventory of Herb/Forb Families and Species

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