Weber places some species of Chickweeds in Alsinaceae, not Caryophyllaceae.

Arenaria lanuginosa subspecies saxosa

Spergulastrum lanuginosum

Arenaria lanuginosa subspecies saxosa. Synonym: Spergulastrum lanuginosum subspecies saxosum. (Woolly Chickweed)
Caryophyllaceae  (Pink Family)

Montane, subalpine. Open woodlands. Summer, fall.
Horse Creek Trail, August 31, 2005; Taylor Mesa, July 6, 2010; Cross Mountain Trail, July 22, 2016.

Arenaria lanuginosa is typically found sprawling along the ground making very loose, open mounds with 3-7 inch stems topped by bright white flowers.  Stems can be much longer (to 18 inches) and the stems can be upright.

Rounded white petals are slightly longer than the pointed green sepals.  Just after the flowers open the ten stamens are arched back over the petals. As the flower matures the stamens grow erect, pollen maturest, and eventually the anther sacs fall. The sacs are pink, to white, to brown depending on their age. In the photograph below you can see that 5 of the 10 stamens still have their anther sacs. In the very center of the flower are the three spreading styles.

                                   Arenaria lanuginosa

This fairly common Chickweed occurs scattered along trails through open Spruce forests.  What will attract your attention are the bright white flowers.

Although most Arenaria lanuginosa in the Four Corners area are fairly uniform in their morphology, the Flora of North America indicates that this species "is morphologically diverse... and is in serous need of comprehensive study."

The Spergulastrum genus was named by Michaux in 1803 and Michaux also named this species.  "Lanuginosum", from the Latin for "wool" and "full of", perhaps refers to the densely hairy leaves and stems.

Linnaeus named the Arenaria genus in 1753 and Paul Rohrbach (1846-1871) posthumously renamed Michaux's Spergulastrum lanuginosum to Arenaria lanuginosa in 1872.  The Flora of North America, the Synthesis of the North American Flora, and A Utah Flora place this species in the Arenaria genus. 

"Aren" is Latin for "sand" and is aptly applied because of the often sandy areas that species of this genus grow in.

Click to read about Chickweeds..

Stellaria longipes subspecies longipes
Stellaria longipes subspecies longipes (Long-stalked Starwort)
Caryophyllaceae  (Pink Family)

Foothills to alpine. Meadows, moist areas. Summer, fall.
Horse Creek Trail, August 31, 2005.

Stellaria longipes grows to a very slender four-to-eight inches tall.  It enjoys open meadows, dry forests, and wet areas and thrives from the foothills to the alpine.  Its leaves are narrow, cupped, and lustrous green, generally angling upward. 

Stellaria longipes subspecies longipesWhite flower petals are deeply cut and about twice as long as the sepals (green, behind the white petals).

As is true of Arenaria lanuginosa shown above, it is the bright white flower, not the greenery of the plant that will first attract your attention. The plants are so inconspicuous that without the flower they would be unnoticed.

The genus name, Stellaria, is Latin for "star" and was given by Linnaeus in 1753.  "Longipes", a name given by John Goldie (1793-1886), is Latin for "long limbed", referring to the plants very slender stature.  Click to see the very similar Stellaria longifolia.

Minuartia rubella

Minuartia rubella. (Red Sandwort).  SynonymTryphane rubella.
Caryophyllaceae  (Pink Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Scree, tundra. Summer.
Lizard Head Trail, August 18, 2005.

Minuartia rubella reclines upon the ground as if it were wind-swept  --  and it does usually grow in windy alpine areas, but its prostrate position is just the way it enjoys growing.  The reclining stems are about one-to-four inches long (those pictured are two inches) and a typical plant is about four inches in diameter.  Bright white, five-petaled flowers turn upward at the end of the stems.  The tiny 1/4 to 1/3 inch stiff, three-veined leaves are in four clusters evenly spaced on the stem.  Since the plant is only about an inch high, it is very easy to pass by.  Don't.  Get down to its level and marvel at its beauty.

"Tryphane" is Greek for "delicate" and "rubella" is Latin for "somewhat red", referring to the stem color.

Minuartia rubella is circumpolar and is found from the Arctic at sea level to 12,000 foot alpine ridges.  It is found in all western states and in all Canadian provinces.

Linnaeus named the Minuartia genus in 1753 in honor of Juan Minuart (1693-1768), a Spanish apothecary and botanist.  This species was first named Alsine rubella in 1812 by George Wahlenberg (1780-1851), Weber accepts Heinrich Gottlieb Reichenbach's (1793-1879) 1841 name of Tryphane rubella, and The Flora of North America and Synthesis of the North American Flora accept William Hiern's (1839-1925) Minuartia rubella designation of 1899. (Click for more biographical information about Minuart)

Minuartia rubella
Minuartia rubella. (Red Sandwort).  SynonymTryphane rubella.
Caryophyllaceae  (Pink Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Scree, tundra. Summer.
Lizard Head Trail, August 18, 2005.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Questionable presence

Range map for Arenaria lanuginosa

Range map for Minuartia rubella

Range map for Stellaria longipes