Spergularia rubra (Red Sand Spurrey)
|Also known as:|
|Life cycle:||annual, short-lived perennial|
|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):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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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.
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:
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.
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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Photos by K. Chayka taken in Pine County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin, Cook and Pine counties.
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