Moehringia macrophylla (Large-leaved Sandwort)
|Also known as:|
|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):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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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:
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 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.
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Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Cook County.
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