West Highland Flora

Procumbent Pearlwort


Sagina procumbens

 

Sagina procumbens

Photo Carl Farmer
25 Sep 2001 Penifiler, Skye

Very common on bare ground, lawns, grazed turf, walls and on the shore.

Flower diameter (including sepals) c 4.5-5.5 mm.  Petals normally less than 1 mm when present, often absent, but rarely up to 2.5 mm.

ID: No flowering stem from central rosette of leaves, but only on side shoots.  4-5 stamens (normally 4).

Other features: A small plant that can form large mats.  Often taken for a moss when growing in lawns.  Sepals and (where  present) petals usually 4, sometimes 5.  Lateral stems root at nodes, unlike Sea or Annual Pearlwort, the only other species with 4-5 stamens.  Styles are also 4-5, as in all Pearlworts.  Sepals spread in ripe fruit to form a cross.

Plants with large flowers, i.e. about equal to the sepals, are sometimes found in close-grazed turf.  They are completely hairless, but resemble Heath Pearlwort in having long awns at the leaf-tips and more than 5 stamens.  They require further investigation.  (See bottom two pics)

 

Sagina procumbens

Photo Carl Farmer
30 May 2003 Glenhinnisdale, Skye
 

  Sagina procumbens

Photo Carl Farmer
25 Sep 2001 Penifiler, Skye

5-sepalled fls, petals and styles still 4    

 

Sagina procumbens

Photo Carl Farmer
23 Sep 2001 Suardal, Skye

 

Sagina subulata

Photo Carl Farmer
30 May 2003 Glenhinnisdale, Skye
Flowers 4.5-5 mm across

  Sagina subulata

Photo Carl Farmer
30 May 2003 Glenhinnisdale, Skye
3 largest flowers 5.5 mm across

Plants with petals = sepals, up to 8 stamens per flower, and leaf-tip awn 0.2-0.5 mm long.  All these characters suggest Heath Pearlwort, but the plants are totally hairless and their habitat and extensive mat-forming behaviour suggests Procumbent Pearlwort, which is what I think they are.  Have seen these at Glenhinnisdale and Talisker.  Need to go back and see whether shoots root at nodes and whether sepals appressed or spreading in fruit.  The RH pic is of an isolated outlier with the habit of Heath P but generally the plants form continuous mats.


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