Star chickweed (Stellaria pubera)

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Star chickweed flowers

Top facts

  • The star chickweed has white flowers, with five deeply divided petals.
  • The star chickweed has pale greenish-brown fruit capsules that contain kidney-shaped seeds.
  • The star chickweed is self-compatible but does not self-pollinate.
  • The star chickweed can have up to 15 small clusters of flowers, called inflorescences.
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Star chickweed fact file

Star chickweed description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderCaryophyllales
FamilyCaryophyllaceae
GenusStellaria (1)

The star chickweed (Stellaria pubera) is a perennial herb (3) with white flowers (2) (4) (5). The flowers are made up of five petals (4) about four to eight millimetres long that are so deeply divided that it looks as though there are ten individual petals (5). There are five long sepals up to six millimetres long (2) (4). The flowers grow singly, or in small clusters called inflorescences (5). The number of inflorescences per plant can range from 1 to 15, with most bearing 15 or fewer flowers (6). The leaves grow up to ten centimetres long and four centimetres wide, and are usually attached directly to the stem towards the upper end of the plant, or attached to the stem with a very small stalk called a petiole in the middle or lower part of the plant (4). The star chickweed can grow up to 40 centimetres tall with branched, hairy stems (2). The fruit capsules are shorter than the sepals, about 3.5 to 5.5 millimetres in length (2) (4). They are pale greenish-brown in colour and contain brown kidney-shaped seeds that are 1.5 to 2 millimetres in diameter (2).

Synonyms
Alsine pubera.
Size
Height: up to 40 cm (2)
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Star chickweed biology

The star chickweed flowers during the spring, between the months of March and May (2) (4). It is self-compatible but not self-pollinating, as the anthers produce their pollen before the stigma of the same flower becomes receptive.  The star chickweed therefore requires insect pollination to produce seeds. The stamens remain functional for one to three days before they are pushed outwards to rest on the petals as the stigma enlarges and becomes receptive (6).

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Star chickweed range

The star chickweed is found throughout most of the eastern United States (3) (5), from New Jersey to Illinois and south to Florida (4).

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Star chickweed habitat

The star chickweed is found in deciduous woodland (5) at elevations of between 100 and 1,000 metres (2).

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Star chickweed status

The star chickweed has not yet been assessed by the IUCN.

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Star chickweed threats

There are no significant threats currently facing the star chickweed.

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Star chickweed conservation

The star chickweed is listed as endangered in Illinois and New Jersey (3).

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Find out more

Find out more about the star chickweed:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Anther
Part of the stamen (the male reproductive organ of a flower) that produces pollen.
Deciduous
A plant that sheds its leaves at the end of the growing season.
Herb
A small, non-woody, seed bearing plant in which all the aerial parts die back at the end of each growing season.
Inflorescence
The reproductive shoot of a plant, which bears a group or cluster of flowers.
Perennial
A plant that normally lives for more than two years. After an initial period, the plant usually produces flowers once a year.
Pollination
The transfer of pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant.
Self-pollination
The transfer of pollen from the stamen (male part) of a flower, to the stigma (female part) of the same flower, or a different flower on the same plant.
Sepal
A leaf-like, usually green part of the protective outer layer of a flower bud.
Stamen
The male reproductive organ of a flower. Each stamen is comprised of an anther (the pollen-producing organ) and a filament (stalk).
Stigma
The part of the female reproductive organ of a flower which receives the pollen, and on which the pollen germinates (starts growing).
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References

  1. Species 2000 and ITIS Catalogue of Life (February, 2014)
    http://www.catalogueoflife.org/
  2. Flora of North America Online (February, 2014)
    http://efloras.org/
  3. United States Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service (February, 2014)
    http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome
  4. Mohlenbrock, R.H. (2001) Flowering Plants: Pokeweeds, Four-o’clocks, Carpetweeds, Cacti, Purslanes, Goosefoots, Pigweeds and Pinks. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, Illinois.
  5. Choukas-Bradley, M. (2004) An Illustrated Guide to Eastern Woodland Wildflowers and Trees: 350 Plants Observed at Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland. University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, Virginia.
  6. Campbell, D.R. (1985) Pollinator sharing and seed set of Stellaria pubera: Competition for pollination. Ecology, 66(2): 544-553.
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Image credit

Star chickweed flowers  
Star chickweed flowers

© Alan Cressler

Alan Cressler
http://www.flickr.com/photos/alan_cressler/

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