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Key to families | Table of families and genera

Specimen numbers are hyperlinked to records in the Consortium of California Herbaria data view where possible. Taxa are hyperlinked to entries in the Jepson Interchange via the "[Online Interchange]" link.


Annual, perennial herb, erect to prostrate; taprooted, rhizomed. Stem: 4-angled or round. Leaf: petioled or not; linear to ovate, vein 1. Inflorescence: terminal or axillary, umbel-like or not, open to dense; flowers 1–many (if 1, axillary); peduncles, pedicels 0.8–50+ mm. Flower: sepals (4)5, free, 1.5–5.5 mm, lanceolate to ovate, glabrous to glandular-hairy; petals 0 or (1)5, 0.8–7 mm, 2-lobed > 1/2 to base; stamens 10 or fewer; styles 3(4–5 in Stellaria calycantha), 0.2–2.8 mm. Fruit: capsule, ± ovoid or spheric to cylindric-oblong; valves 6(8,10), ascending to recurved. Seed: several to many, brown to ± yellow, ± red, or purple-brown.
± 190 species: worldwide. (Latin: star, from flower shape) [Morton 2005 FNANM 5:96–114] Presence of papillae on leaf margins determined at 20×.
Unabridged references: [Chinnappa & Morton 1991 Rhodora 93:129–135; Morton & Rabeler 1989 Canad J Bot 67:121–127; Morton 2005 FNANM 5:96–114]

Key to Stellaria

1. Annual, from slender to thread-like taproot

2. Leaves crowded near base, upper lance-linear (to ovate); internode hairs 0 or scattered; bracts scarious ..... S. nitens

2' Leaves ± evenly spaced, ± ovate; internode hairs in line; bracts leaf-like

3. Sepals 2–3 mm, < 4 mm in fruit; petals 0; seeds 0.7–0.8 mm, yellow- to light red-brown ..... S. pallida

3' Sepals 3–6 mm, > 6 mm in fruit; petals generally present; seeds 0.9–1.7 mm, dark red- or purple-brown to brown

4. Sepals 3–4.5 mm; seeds 0.9–1.3 mm, tubercles rounded ..... S. media

4' Sepals 5–6 mm; seeds 1.1–1.7 mm, tubercles conical, especially on margin ..... S. neglecta

1' Perennial herb, from slender rhizomes

5. Plant covered (except ± leaves) with long wavy hairs — coastal ± marshes, bluffs, North Coast, Central Coast ..... S. littoralis

5' Plant glabrous or hairs restricted to stem or leaf margin

6. Petals >= sepals

7. Inflorescence ± narrow; pedicels ascending to erect; flowers generally 1–7 ..... S. longipes subsp. longipes

7' Inflorescence open, branches widely spreading; pedicels spreading or reflexed; flowers generally many

8. Sepals 4–5.5 mm, margin densely ciliate or not; inflorescence terminal; seeds with prominent, elongate tubercles; leaf margin ± not papillate, shiny ..... S. graminea

8' Sepals 3–4 mm, margin ± glabrous; inflorescence lateral; seeds minutely roughened; leaf margin papillate, dull ..... S. longifolia

6' Petals < 0.8 × sepals or 0

9. Flowers few (alpine) to many, in umbel-like cyme; bracts scarious; pedicels in fruit spreading to reflexed; petals 0 ..... S. umbellata

9' Flowers 1 in axils or few to many in terminal cyme; bracts leaf-like; pedicels in fruit spreading to recurved or reflexed; petals present or 0

10. Flowers 1 in axils; petals generally 0; leaf ± ovate

11. Sepals generally 5, acute or acuminate, ribs in fruit 3; leaf margin ± wavy, glabrous; seeds 0.8–1 mm ..... S. crispa

11' Sepals generally 4, ± obtuse, ribs in fruit 1, obscure; leaf margin ± flat, generally ciliate near base; seeds 0.6–0.7 mm ..... S. obtusa

10' Flowers generally few to many in terminal or axillary cymes; petals generally present; leaf lanceolate to ovate

12. Leaf ± lanceolate to widely so, primary blades mostly > 2 cm, margin papillate, dull; internodes generally finely papillate; sepals 3–3.5 mm, in fruit < 4.5 mm, with generally 3 ribs; styles generally 0.9–1.6 mm, slender, straight (often contorted on dried specimens) ..... S. borealis subsp. sitchana

12' Leaf elliptic to ovate, primary blades mostly < 2 cm, margin ± not papillate, shiny; internodes not papillate; sepals 1.5–2.5 mm, in fruit < 3 mm, with generally 1–3 obscure veins; styles generally 0.5–0.9 mm, thick, outcurved ..... S. calycantha


Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) [year] Jepson eFlora, [accessed on month, day, year]
Citation for an individual treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] [year]. [Taxon name] in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, [URL for treatment]. Accessed on [month, day, year].
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