Cerastium velutinum Raf.

Prairie Chickweed

Cerastium velutinum plant

Family - Caryophyllaceae

Stems - To 40 cm, often ascending from a sprawling base, branched, densely pubescent with both glandular and eglandular hairs.

Leaves - Opposite, sessile, to 6.5 cm, spatulate to lanceolate, pubescent.

Cerastium_velutinum_leavesLeaves.

Cerastium_velutinum_leaves2

Inflorescence - Flowers in open panicles, the stalks 1.2-3.4 cm long, 2-4(-5) times as long as the sepals, erect or ascending, at fruiting usually hooked near the tip, densely pubescent with both glandular and eglandular hairs, only the uppermost bracts with narrow, thin, white to translucent margins, the others green and herbaceous.

Cerastium_velutinum_showy
Missouri's showiest Cerastium?

Flowers - Sepals 5, to 9 mm long, narrowly elliptic, sharply pointed, green with hyaline margins, densely pubescent with stalked glands, these shorter than the sepal tips. Petals 5, to 15 mm long, 2 times as long as the sepals, deeply 2-lobed (1/4-1/3 of the way) at the tip. Stamens 10. Styles 5.

Cerastium_velutinum_calyxCalyx.

Cerastium_velutinum_CorollaCorolla.

Fruit - Fruits 10-14 mm long, about 2 times as long as the sepals, curved.

Cerastium_velutinum_fruitImmature fruit.

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Streambanks, forest openings, roadsides.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Other info. - Plants in the genus Cerastium are usually small and weedy looking, but this is an exception. It is probably the showiest member of the genus in Missouri and certainly the largest-flowered. It is found mostly in the southeastern section of the state.

C. velutinum has in the past been considered a subspecies of C. arvense; however, the two species apparently do not hybridize in the wild and are usually easily distinguished. Many Missouri specimens formerly assigned to C. arvense have recently be redetermined as C. velutinum.

Plants found in Missouri belong to the subspecies velutinum. The subspecies villosissimum (Pennell) J.K. Morton is endemic to serpentine outcrops in Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It differs in its denser, broader, more persistent leaves with more dense, shaggy pubescence.

Photographs taken at Silver Mines Recreation Area, Madison County, MO, 3-19-2012, 4-3-2016, and 4-13-2017; and at Daniel Boone Conservation Area, Warren County, MO, 4-17-2012 (SRTurner).



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