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©Copyright 1993 by the Regents of the University of California
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Ronald L. Hartman (except Silene)

Annual, biennial, perennial herb, rarely dioecious, taprooted or rhizome generally slender
Leaves simple, generally opposite; stipules generally 0; petiole generally 0; blade entire, sheath generally 0
Inflorescence: cyme, generally open; flowers few–many or flower solitary and axillary; involucre generally 0
Flower generally bisexual, radial; hypanthium sometimes present; sepals generally 5, ± free or fused into a tube, tube generally herbaceous between lobes or teeth; awns generally 0; petals generally 5 or 0, generally tapered to base (or with claw long, blade expanded), entire to 2–several-lobed, blade generally without scale-like appendages (inner surface), generally without ear-like lobes at base; stamens generally 10, generally fertile, generally free, generally from ovary base; nectaries generally 0; ovary superior, generally 1-chambered, placentas basal or free-central, styles 2–5 or 1 and 2–3-branched
Fruit: capsule or utricle (rarely modified, dehiscent), generally sessile
Seeds: appendage generally 0
Genera in family: 85 genera, 2400 species: widespread, especially arctic, alpine, temp, n hemisphere; some cultivated (Agrostemma, Arenaria, Cerastium, Dianthus, Gypsophila, Lychnis, Saponaria, Silene, Vaccaria ).



Annual, perennial herb, erect to prostrate; taproot and rhizomes present
Leaf: petiole present or 0; blade linear to ovate; vein 1
Inflorescence: cyme, terminal or axillary, few–many-flowered, open to dense or umbel-like or flower axillary, solitary; peduncles, pedicels 0.8–50+ mm
Flower: sepals generally 5, free, 1.5–5.5 mm, lanceolate to ovate, glabrous to glandular-hairy; petals 0 or 5, 0.8–7 mm, generally 2-lobed ± to base; stamens 10, sometimes fewer; styles 3(4–5 in S. calycantha), 0.2–2.8 mm
Fruit: capsule, ± ovoid to cylindric-oblong; teeth 6(8,10), ascending to recurved
Seeds several–many, brown to yellowish, reddish, or purplish brown
Species in genus: 120 species: worldwide
Etymology: (Latin: star, from flower shape)
Reference: [Chinnappa & Morton 1991 Rhodora 93:129–135; Morton & Rabeler 1989 Canad J Bot 67:121–127]


S. media (L.) Vill.


Annual but often over-wintering, prostrate to erect, 7–50 cm; taproot slender
Stem: internodes hairy in line
Leaves ± evenly spaced; blade 8–45 mm, ± ovate; margin ± smooth, ± flat, shiny, often ciliate near base
Inflorescence terminal or axillary, few-flowered, ± dense; bracts leafy; pedicels spreading to erect, in fruit curved to reflexed
Flower: sepals 5, 3–4.5 mm, > 6 mm in fruit, lanceolate to ovate, acute to obtuse, glabrous or ± hairy and glandular, margin ± widely scarious, ribs often 1 or 3 near base; petals 5, 0.7–0.9 X sepal
Seed 0.9–1.3 mm, reddish or purplish brown; surface papillate
Chromosomes: 2n=40,42,44
Ecology: Oak woodlands, meadows, disturbed areas
Elevation: < 1300 m.
Bioregional distribution: Northwestern California, High Cascade Range, c Sierra Nevada Foothills, Great Central Valley, Central Coast, San Francisco Bay Area, South Coast, Channel Islands, Sonoran Desert
Distribution outside California: native to sw Europe
Flowering time: Feb–Sep
Often a pernicious urban weed.

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