Spergularia rubra (Red Sand Spurrey)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Spergularia
Family:Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life cycle:annual, short-lived perennial
Origin:Europe
Status:
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; disturbed sandy or gravelly soil; roadsides, empty lots, gravel pits
Bloom season:June - October
Plant height:2 to 6 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals

[photo of flowers] Small clusters of stalked flowers at branch tips and arising singly from leaf axils along branching stems. Flowers are about ¼ inch across with 5 oval petals, pink to lavender but paler at the base. In the center are 6 to 10 yellow-tipped stamens and a 3-parted style.

[photo of sepals] Surrounding the base of the flower, alternating with the petals, are 5 sepals that are narrower and about as long as the petals with thin, translucent edging. Sepals and flower stalks are covered in glandular hairs.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are opposite, or whorled in groups of 3 to 5 irregularly spaced around the stem and may be clustered on one side. Leaves are toothless, hairless, stalkless, up to about ½ inch long, linear tapering to a pointed tip, often with a short spine or hair-like extension at the apex. At the base of the leaf cluster is a pair of appendages (stipules) that are thin, silvery white, lance-shaped with a long taper to a slender tip, and up to about ¼ inch long. Stems are branched from the base, mostly sprawling creating mats, and variously covered in glandular hairs though often smooth on the lower stem.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is an oval capsule about as long as the persistent sepals, containing many small reddish to dark brown seeds.

Notes:

Red Sand Spurrey is an occasional roadside weed but likely under-reported in the state, possibly overlooked due to its tiny size. It is not likely to be confused with any other species in Minnesota; its short stature (when sprawling rarely much more than a few inches tall), clustered leaf arrangement, conspicuous stipules, and glandular hairs should distinguish it from other species with small, pink, 5-petaled flowers. A related species, Salt-marsh Sand Spurrey (Spergularia salina or S. marina), not known to be in Minnesota but present in surrounding states, has flowers with fewer than 6 stamens, leaves mostly opposite without spine at the tip, and less conspicuous stipules.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Pine County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin, Cook and Pine counties.

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