star chickweed (Stellaria pubera)
Alsine pubera (Michx.) Britt.
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for star chickweed
is Stellaria pubera Michx.
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: This native perennial wildflower is about 6-12" tall and unbranch-
ed, or sparingly so. Both fertile and infertile shoots are produced; the latter develop later in the year and don't produce flowers. The central stem is light green to pale purplish green and slightly to moderately pubescent.
Leaves: The opposite leaves are up to 3" long and 1¼" across; they are
ovate, lanceolate, or broadly oblong. The upper surface of these leaves is medium to dark green and finely pubescent (sometimes sparsely); their
margins are ciliate. Each leaf tapers gradually to a sessile or nearly sessile
base, while its tip may be acute or blunt; lower leaves are more likely to
have short petioles and blunt tips than upper leaves.
Flowers: The central stem of each fertile shoot produces a terminal cyme
of flowers; occasional individual flowers may develop from the axils of
the upper leaves. Each flower is about ½" across, consisting of 5 green
sepals, 5 white petals (looking like 10 petals, because each petal is deeply bifurcated), a white ovary with 3 styles at its apex, and 10 stamens with
reddish brown anthers. The petals are about the same length or a little long-
er than the sepals. Each sepal is lanceolate to ovate and pubescent. The
pedicel of each flower is up to 1" long and pubescent.
Fruit/Seeds: Each flower is replaced by an ovoid capsule that splits open
at its apex, forming 6 recurved teeth. Each capsule contains many small
seeds that are globoid, somewhat flattened, and minutely warty. Each
seed is often slightly notched on one side.
Roots: The root system consists of a taproot with slender fibrous roots.
Small colonies of plants are occasionally formed.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Star chickweed propogates itself by
HABITAT TYPES: Habitats include rocky wooded slopes, wooded
bluffs, and the upper slopes of sandstone ravines. Another typical habitat
is rich mesic woodlands. This conservative species is found in high qual-
ity woodlands, especially where sandstone is close to the ground surface.
Star chickweed also occurs in alluvial bottomlands.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: The preference is dappled sunlight to
light shade during the spring, followed by light to medium shade. The
soil should be well-drained but consistently moist, with an abundance
of organic matter and a layer of decaying leaves. It should also be some-
what acidic. Shallow rocky ground and slopes help to reduce competition
from taller plants.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs from
mid- to late spring and lasts about a month.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Star chickweed is a species primarily
of the eastern United States, specifically east of the Mississippi/Missouri
Rivers. Occassionally found farther west (i.e., Louisiana, Nebraska, Minn-
esota), it ranges from Florida to southern New England; it has not been
recorded in any Canadian province.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: While some floral-faunal relationships
for chickweeds in meadow-like settings are known, very little of this
information can be safely generalized to this woodland chickweed. The
primary pollinators of the flowers are probably bees (Andrenid bees,
mason bees, & Halictid bees). These insects suck floral nectar and collect
Crooked Run Valley