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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 5 | Caryophyllaceae | Stellaria

23. Stellaria pallida (Dumortier) Crépin, Man. Fl. Belgique, ed. 2. 19. 1866.

Lesser chickweed

Alsine pallida Dumortier, Fl. Belg., 109. 1827; Stellaria boraeana Jordan; S. media (Linnaeus) Villars subsp. pallida (Dumortier) Ascherson & Graebner

Plants annual, usually yellowish green, with slender taproot. Stems prostrate, much-branched, 4-sided, usually 10-20(-40) cm, glabrous, with single line of hairs along each internode. Leaves petiolate (proximal) or sessile (distal); blade ovate to elliptic, usually 0.3-1.5 cm × 1-7 mm, base round to cuneate, margins entire, apex shortly acuminate, glabrous or with few cilia on margins and abaxial midrib. Inflorescences terminal, 3-35-flowered cymes; bracts lanceolate, 2-10 mm, herbaceous, margins entire. Pedicels spreading, sometimes deflexed at base in fruit, 1-10 mm, pubescent. Flowers 2-3 mm diam.; sepals 4-5, veins obscure, midrib sometimes present, lanceolate, 3-4 mm, margins narrow, herbaceous, apex acute, pubescent; petals usually absent; stam t; styles 3, ascending, becoming curled, 0.2-0.5 mm. Capsules pale straw colored, ovoid, 2-4(-5) mm, equaling to slightly longer than sepals, apex obtuse, opening by 6 valves, outwardly curled at tip; carpophore absent. Seeds pale yellowish brown, reniform to round, 0.5-0.9 mm diam., tuberculate; tubercles prominent, broader than tall, apex obtuse. 2n = 22.

Flowering spring. Dunes, sandy waste places, rest areas on interstate highways; 0-1500 m; introduced; Ont.; Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Fla., Ind., Kans., Ky., La., Mich., Mo., Nebr., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Va., Wash., W.Va.; Mexico; Europe.

Stellaria pallida is automatically self-pollinated and often cleistogamous. It usually can be distinguished from apetalous forms of S. media by its smaller size, yellowish green color, its small sepals and small, pale seeds. Also the base and tip of the sepals occasionally are dark-red pigmented.


Morton, J. K. 1972. On the occurrence of Stellaria pallida in North America. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 99: 95-97.


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