GREATER STITCHWORT

Stellaria holostea

Carnation & Campion (Pink) Family [Caryophyllaceae]

month8mar month8march month8apr month8april month8may month8jun month8june

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8white
inner
inner8yellow
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
petals
petalsZcleft petalsZcut
stem
stem8round
stem
stem8square

12th May 2012, Chesterfield Canal, South Yorkshire. Photo: © RWD
Grows to 60cm usually amidst long grass in partial shade but here unusually growing almost alone amidst leaf litter.


12th May 2012, Chesterfield Canal, South Yorkshire. Photo: © RWD
Grass-like leaves in opposite pairs up the stem. Here ascending, more often scrambling.


21st May 2008, Glossop, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Usually scrambling through lowish undergrowth, the flowers are white with five deeply-cleft petals with rounded ends.


3rd May 2011, Horse Hey Coppice, Grindleford, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Petals cleft (bifid) to half-way.


3rd May 2011, Horse Hey Coppice, Grindleford, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Petals much longer than sepals behind (some visible between the petals).


22nd May, Gradback, Staffs. Photo: © RWD
Petals noticeably ridged, and usually curving backwards. Flowers a large 15-30mm across.


6th June 2011, Crookland Wood, Langsett, Sheffield. Photo: © RWD
About 10 stamens with yellow anthers. The pale-green ovary in the centre will become the fruit if pollinated.


22nd May 2012, Gradback, Staffs. Photo: © RWD
Tapering sepals (five) much shorter than petals. Stems rough with short hairs.


22nd May 2012, Gradback, Staffs. Photo: © RWD
Several as-yet un-opened flower buds below.


6th June 2011, Crookland Wood, Langsett, Sheffield. Photo: © RWD
Petals withering shorter as the fruits form.


6th June 2011, Crookland Wood, Langsett, Sheffield. Photo: © RWD
Fruit forming within.


6th June 2011, Crookland Wood, Langsett, Sheffield. Photo: © RWD
When in fruit the flowers usually droop, but this one up-turned to see the fruit with still the three styles attached.


6th June 2011, Crookland Wood, Langsett, Sheffield. Photo: © RWD
The fruit, green at first. Stems rough with short hairs.


22nd May 2012, Gradback, Staffs. Photo: © RWD
Stalkless (sessile) and lanceolate leaves growing in opposite pairs.


22nd May 2012, Gradback, Staffs. Photo: © RWD
The stem which is usually squarish or angular lower down with rough edges, but rounder nearer the top.


Can be mistaken for : Marsh Stitchwort (Stellaria palustris) but that grows in marshes, has smaller flowers (12-18mm) with relatively narrower petals. The stems are smooth-angled (rather than rough-angled. The whitish edges of the sepals are broader than those of Greater Stitchwort and the leaves are proportionately much narrower than those of Greater Stitchwort.

Could be mistaken for : Wood Stitchwort (Stellaria nemorum) but that has proportionately much broader/shorter and oval leaves more like those of Greater Chickweed (Syellara neglecta) as well as smaller flowers (10-18mm) with petals more deeply cleft and leaves that are pale-green.

Can be mis-identified as : Lesser Stitchwort (Stellaria graminea) but although taller at 80cm has even smaller flowers (5-12mm across) and has smooth-angled (rather than rough-angled) stems and is more mid-green than the greyish-green Greater Stitchwort.

Hardly mistakable for : Bog Stitchwort (Stellaria alsine) which has the smallest flowers (5-7mm across) is shorter at 40cm, and grows in usually un-shaded mires or sometimes in streams.

Some similarities to : Mouse-ears such as Field Mouse-Ear (Cerastium arvense) but all those have oval leaves.

Can be mistaken for the garden escapee Snow-in-Summer (Cerastium tomentosum) which also has similarly-sized large recurved flowers with five petals cleft to half-way, but that is greyer and is more sprawling.

Slight resemblance to : Chickweeds such as Common Chickweed (Stellaria media) but many of these have proportionately wider leaves and smaller flowers.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : The flower is larger than all other stitchworts at between 15-30mm across and has 5 petals incised to about only half-way.

The last part of the binomial name 'holostea' does not mean what it sounds like, it does not have a hollow stem but rather a brittle stem which snaps like brittle bones, apparently. It is a native perennial that used to be ubiquitous throughout most of the UK save for parts of Lincolnshire and bits of Scotland where it has never been spotted. It has disappeared in recent decades from the East Midlands, parts of South Wales, parts of Scotland, some coastal strips and much of Ireland. Grows in scrub, deciduous woods and hedges usually in slight shade.


  Stellaria holostea  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Caryophyllaceae  

Distribution
 family8Carnation & Campion (Pink) family8Caryophyllaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Stellaria
Stellaria
(Stitchworts)

GREATER STITCHWORT

Stellaria holostea

Carnation & Campion (Pink) Family [Caryophyllaceae]