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Annual or perennial herb, generally fleshy
Stems generally glabrous
Leaves simple, alternate or opposite, sometimes stipuled
Inflorescence various
Flower bisexual, radial; sepals generally 2(–8), free or fused at base; petals 3–18, free or ± fused; stamens 1–many, free or inserted on corolla; ovary superior or partly inferior, chamber 1, placenta free-central or basal; styles 2–8, generally fused at base
Fruit: capsule, circumscissile or 2–3-valved
Seeds 1–many, generally black, generally shiny
Genera in family: ± 20 genera, ± 400 species: generally temp Am, Australia, s Africa; some cultivated (Lewisia, Portulaca, Calandrinia )
Reference: [Bogle 1969 J Arnold Arbor 50:566–598]
Family description and key to genera by Dieter H. Wilken & Walter A. Kelley.


Kenton L. Chambers

Annual or perennial herb, from stolon, rhizome, tuber, or taproot, glabrous, ± fleshy
Leaves entire; basal 0–many, rosetted; cauline generally 2, generally opposite, free to fully fused into ± 2-toothed disk or cup surrounding stem
Inflorescence: raceme, terminal, 1-sided; pedicels reflexed, becoming erect in fruit
Flower: petals 5, pink or white; stamens 5, epipetalous; ovary chamber 1, placentas basal, style 1, stigmas 3
Fruit: capsule; valves 3, margins rolling inward and forcibly expelling seeds
Seeds 3–6, generally black, generally clearly appendaged
Species in genus: 28 species: North America, e Asia
Etymology: (John Clayton, colonial Am botanist, born 1686)
Reference: [Miller 1978 Syst Bot 3:322–341; Miller & Chambers 1993 Novon 3:268–273]
Some species formerly placed in Montia.


C. perfoliata Willd.


Stem 1–40 cm, spreading to erect
Leaves: basal 1–25 cm, blade < 4 cm, < 3 X longer than wide, elliptic to reniform, tip rounded to acute, petiole linear; cauline pair fused, disk-like, < 10 cm diam, round or squarish (or free on 1 side)
Inflorescence stalked or sessile, open or dense, 1-bracted at base; flowers 5–40
Flower: sepals 1.5–5 mm; petals 2–6 mm, white or pinkish
Fruit 1.5–4 mm
Seed 1.2–2.7 mm, ovate to round, shiny, smooth
Ecology: Common. Vernally moist, often shady or disturbed sites
Elevation: < 2000 m.
Bioregional distribution: California Floristic Province, Great Basin Floristic Province, Mojave Desert
Distribution outside California: to British Columbia, Montana, C.America
Highly variable; subspp. difficult because of environmental plasticity, genetic mixing among polyploids, and geog overlap of distinct, self-pollinating forms.

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