This perennial wildflower is 2-8" tall. It is ascending to erect with
either unbranched or sparingly branched stems. The slender stems are
light green, terete, and usually short-pubescent. There are pairs of
opposite leaves at intervals along these stems. The leaves are ½-1¼"
long and about one-third as much across; they are medium green,
glabrous above, and either glabrous or short-pubescent below. The
leaves are oblong-elliptic to broadly oblong-elliptic in shape and
smooth along their margins; they are either sessile or have short
petioles (1 mm. in length). The stems terminate in small clusters of
2-5 flowers (less often individual flowers). In addition, axillary
clusters of flowers may originate from the upper two pairs of leaves.
Individual flowers are up to 1/3" across (8 mm.), consisting of 5 white
petals, 5 light green sepals, a light green superior ovary with 3
styles, and 10 stamens. The widely spreading petals are oblong-elliptic
in shape and about twice as long as the sepals. The sepals are
lanceolate to ovate with blunt tips and either glabrous or
very slender pedicels are up to 1" long and usually short-pubescent.
The blooming period occurs during late spring to early summer and lasts
about 1 month. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by ovoid seed
capsules about ¼" long. Along the upper rim of a mature seed capsule,
there are 6 recurved teeth. Each seed capsule contains only a few seeds
that are about 1 mm. in length, reniform and somewhat flattened in
shape, and smooth along their outer surfaces. Attached to each seed,
a spongy food appendage (elaisome). The root system is fibrous and
rhizomatous. Clonal offsets often develop from the rhizomes,
forming small colonies of plants.
The preference is
partial sun to light shade, moist to dry-mesic conditions, and soil
that is loamy, gravelly, or sandy with decaying organic matter.
native Grove Sandwort is uncommon in the northern half of Illinois,
while in the southern half of the state it is absent (see Distribution
). Illinois lies along the southern range limit of this
which has a circumboreal distribution that includes North America,
Europe, and Asia. Habitats consist primarily of open woodlands, sandy
oak woodlands, woodland borders, and gravelly or rocky borders of
streams in wooded areas. Less often, this wildflower occurs in meadows
and prairies as an understory plant.
The nectar and pollen of the flowers
attract small bees (Halictid, Andrenid) and flies (Syrphid). Otherwise,
little is known about floral-faunal relationships for this species.
The wildflower garden of the
This is a delicate and attractive small wildflower that can be easily
overlooked. Across local populations of plants, there is some
variability in hairiness of the foliage and width
of the leaves. Grove Sandwort can be distinguished from similar
species in the Pink family by the shape of its leaves, the
characteristics of its flowers, and the number of teeth of its seed
capsules. Unlike chickweeds (both Stellaria
Grove Sandwort has petals that are neither notched at their tips nor
deeply bifurcated. Its flowers are similar to those of Minuartia spp.
(Sandworts), but it has wider leaves than the latter and its seed
capsules have 6 teeth, instead of 3. Grove Sandwort is also similar to
(Thyme-Leaved Sandwort), but its leaves are more
long and narrow in shape. Grove Sandwort differs from all of
these species by the food appendages (elaisomes) that are attached to
its seeds. This is a highly unusual characteristic for a species in the
Pink family. A scientific synonym of Grove Sandwort is Arenaria