Moehringia macrophylla (Large-leaved Sandwort)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life cycle:perennial
  • State Threatened
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist shaded slopes, rocky ridges, outcrops, sheltered cliffs
Bloom season:May - August
Plant height:2 to 10 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: UPL MW: none NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flower] 1 to 5 stalked flowers in a branching cluster at the tip of the stem. Flowers are ¼ to ½ inch across, 5 oblong-elliptic white petals and 10 pale-tipped stamens surrounding a greenish ovary with 3 spreading styles in the center. Behind the flower are 5 light green sepals that have sharply pointed tips and extend to at least ½ the length of the petals, sometimes beyond them.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are narrowly lance-elliptic, 1 to 2½ inches long and up to 3/8 inch wide, toothless, minutely hairy around the edges of the tip end, pointed at the tip, and stalkless or nearly so. Stems are erect to ascending, typically branched, and covered in minute hairs.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is an oval capsule about 1/6 inch long, usually shorter than the sepals, and containing 1 to a few seeds.


Minnesota and other Lake Superior populations of Large-leaved Sandwort are glacial relics and disjunct from the larger populations in western North America. According to the DNR, they are very rare here, their habitat primarily restricted to the moss of rock crevices on sheltered, north-facing cliffs, and cliff tops in associated woodlands. While its preferred habitat is in largely inaccessible locations, some MN populations are in areas subject to destruction from human activities such as road construction and forest management. It was listed as a MN Threatened species in 1984, and is Endangered in Wisconsin. It is similar to the more common woodland species Blunt-leaf Sandwort (Moehringia lateriflora), which has shorter leaves rounded or blunt at the tips, shorter sepals, and is more sprawling. Like its relative, Large-leaved Sandwort spreads primarily vegetatively through rhizomes, and produces little seed.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • ReWild Native Gardens
  • Out Back Nursery
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Cook County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Beth Lynch - Cook County
on: 2020-06-10 20:34:18

Spotted it growing in a crevice on a moist rocky outcrop on the portage trail between Round Lake and Missing Link Lake. I hadn't noticed this species before, so I took some time to photograph it and figure out what it is. 8 June 2020

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the spammers out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.