Androsace occidentalis (Western Rock Jasmine)
|Also known as:||Western androsace|
|Habitat:||sun; dry sandy soil, grassy meadows, open fields, disturbed soil|
|Bloom season:||April - May|
|Plant height:||.5 to 3 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: UPL|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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3 to 15 tiny white flowers on slender stalks radiate from the end of the stems. The flowers are very tiny, less than 1/8 inch, have 5 fused petals with distinct lobes that may be erect or spreading. The green tubular calyx holding the flower is minutely hairy, has 5 sharply pointed erect lobes and is longer than the flower.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are in a tight basal rosette, oblong or lance shaped, up to 2/3 inch long, toothless or with shallow teeth, minutely hairy, tapered to a point at both ends on an obscure, minute stalk. A plant typically has multiple stems from the base but is unbranched; stems are minutely hairy.
Fruit is a smooth, round capsule about 1/6 inch long.
If American lotus (Nelumbo lutea) is noted as Minnesota's largest native wildflower, Western Rock Jasmine certainly vies for its smallest. It can have very dense populations but it takes a discerning and determined eye to pick it out of the landscape, and is only of interest to those who celebrate the diversity of nature. It is easily distinguished from its rare cousin, Northern Androsace (Androsace septentrionalis) which is larger in stature and has rather narrower bracts at the base of the flower cluster.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Hastings Sand Coulee SNA in Dakota county and a grass-free patch of lawn in Lino Lakes, Anoka county.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?