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    The three Caryophyllaceae species shown on this page were placed in the Minuartia genus for many decades by all floras, but genetic research in 2014 indicated that the previously designated Minuartia macrantha and Minuartia rubella should be in the Sabulina genus and Minuartia obtusiloba should be in the Cherleria genus.

The genera Sabulina and Cherleria are distinguished from one another by several characteristics:
The sepal apices of Sabulina are acute to acuminate, not hooded and the sepals are not hardened at the base.
The sepal apices of Cherleria are rounded, hooded,
hardened at the base.

The there species shown on this page are very similar in both their appearance and their preferred habitats. They can be distinguished as follows:

Sabulina macrantha is glabrous throughout. Cherleria obtusiloba and Sabulina rubella are glandular pubescent, at least in their inflorescences.

Cherleria obtusiloba has rounded sepal tips that are often hooded and its petals are longer than its sepals by 1-2 mm. Sabulina rubella has sepal tips that are acute or acuminate and not hooded and its petals are shorter than its sepals or surpass them by only 1 mm.

The Sabulina genus was named by Reichenbach in 1832, and the Cherleria genus was named by Linnaeus in 1753. "Sabulina" is from the Latin "sab", "sand".

Minuartia obtusiloba

Minuartia obtusiloba

Minuartia obtusiloba

Cherleria obtusiloba.  (Alpine Sandwort, Alpine Stitchwort).  Synonyms: Lidia obtusiloba, Arenaria obtusiloba, Minuartia obtusiloba.
Caryophyllaceae.  (Pink Family)

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Upper Calico Trail, August 31, 2005.
Black Bear Pass Road, July 20, 2008.

We generally think that life, especially delicate and beautiful life, needs shelter, water, and, in the case of plants, rich soils.  But life thrives in many environments which do not fit these criteria.  Cherleria and Sabulina grow on high, dry, rocky alpine ridges exposed to intense drying sun and wind.  Water drains very quickly through the rocky surroundings.  The habitat (and growth patterns) are quite similar to those of Alpine Phlox and Moss Campion.

Cherleria obtusiloba is an abundant, handsome plant forming a very low, dense mat of bright green leaves topped by numerous white flowers on stems that just top the basal mat of leaves or exceed it by several inches.  Sepals are curved inward in a hood and they and the leaves are blunt-tipped.  In the photograph below, the inward curving, hooded tip of the sepals can best be seen at the far right.

Minuartia obtusiloba

Linnaeus named the Cherleria and Minuartia genera in 1753, the latter genus in honor of Juan Minuart (1693-1768), a Spanish apothecary and botanist.  Rydberg renamed the species shown here, Alsinopsis obtusiloba in 1906; House renamed it Minuartia obtusiloba in 1921; Löve renamed it Lidia obtusiloba in 1976 (honoring Johannes Lid, 1886-1971, Norwegian botanist); and Dillenberger and Kadereit placed it in the Cherleria genus in 2014. (Click for more biographical information about Juan Minuart.)

 

Minuartia macrantha
Minuartia macrantha
Sabulina macrantha.  Synonyms: Alsinanthe macrantha, Arenaria macrantha, Minuartia macrantha. (Large-flower Sandwort).
Caryophyllaceae  (Pink Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Meadows, scree, tundra. Summer.
Above: Colorado Trail near Stony Pass, July 26, 2017.
Left: Upper Calico Trail, August 31, 2005.

Sabulina macrantha is one of several Chickweeds that whiten alpine tundra and trail-sides above and a bit below tree line.  It is mat-forming and thrives in rocky, dry soils exposed to the intense alpine sun. The dozens of small white areas in the photograph above are clusters of Sabulina macrantha; you can see how abundant the species can be when it finds the environment that it loves. You can also see from the photograph how difficult it might be to spot these tiny plants.

The genus names Alsinanthe, Arenaria, Minuartia, and Sabulina are applied to this and related plants by various botanical experts.  "Alsinanthe" is for the resemblance of this plant to the plants of the genus "Alsine".  "Arenaria" is from the Latin "aren", meaning "sand" (thus the common name of "Sandwort", i.e., "Sand Plant"), and "Sabulina" is from another Latin word for sand, "sab".  

The specific epithet, "macrantha", is Greek for "large-flowered". 

Linnaeus named the Minuartia (and the Arenaria) genus in 1753 in honor of Juan Minuart (1693-1768), a Spanish apothecary and botanist.  Per Axel Rydberg first named this species Alsinopsis macrantha in 1904, Aven Nelson named it Arenaria macrantha in 1909, House named it Minuartia macrantha in 1921; Weber named it Alsinanthe macrantha in 1982; and Dillenberger and Kadereit placed it in Sabulina in 2014. (Click for more biographical information about Minuart.)

Reichenbach named the Alsinanthe genus in 1841.

Minuartia macrantha

Sabulina macrantha.  Synonyms: Alsinanthe macrantha, Arenaria macrantha, Minuartia macrantha. (Large-flower Sandwort).
Caryophyllaceae  (Pink Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Meadows, scree, tundra. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, July 17, 2006.

Minuartia macrantha

Sabulina macrantha.  Synonyms: Alsinanthe macrantha, Arenaria macrantha, Minuartia macrantha. (Large-flower Sandwort).
Caryophyllaceae  (Pink Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Meadows, scree, tundra. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, July 17, 2006.

Sabulina macrantha flowers usually have ten stamens and three styles.  Leaves are glabrous, minute, and crowded.

 

 

Minuartia rubella

Sabulina rubella. (Red Sandwort).  SynonymsTryphane rubella, Minuartia rubella.
Caryophyllaceae  (Pink Family)

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

Sabulina rubella reclines upon the ground as if it were wind-swept  --  and it does usually grow in windy alpine areas.  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.

Sabulina 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; the Synthesis of the North American Flora accepted William Hiern's (1839-1925) Minuartia rubella designation of 1899 but now accepts Dillenberger and Kadereit's genetic research of 2014 placing it in the Sabulina genus.

Minuartia rubella
Sabulina rubella. (Red Sandwort).  SynonymsTryphane rubella, Minuartia 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
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Cherleria obtusiloba

Range map for Sabulina macrantha

Range map for Sabulina rubella