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Red Sand-spurrey

Spergularia rubra

  • Written also: Red Sandspurry, Sand Spurrey
  • Family: Pink Family – Caryophyllaceae
  • Growing form: Annual or biennial herb.
  • Height: 5–15 cm (2–6 in.). Stem limp–ascending, branched from base, upper part often with glandular hairs.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), pale (violet) red, 5–8 mm (0.2–0.32 in.) broad; petals five, 3–4 mm (0.12–0.16 in.) long, approx. same length as sepals. Sepals 5, ovate, tapered, with glandular hairs, membranous margins. Stamens usually 10. Gynoecium syncarpous, with 3 styles. Flowers solitary in axils.
  • Leaves: Opposite, stalkless, stipulate. Blade linear, tapered, bristle-tipped, greyish green. Stipules lanceolate, membranous, shiny, separate.
  • Fruit: Egg-shaped, greenish, 3-valved, 4–5 mm (0.16–0.2 in.) long capsule. Seed wingless.
  • Habitat: Yards, paths, streets, lawns, village banks and rocks, loading areas, wasteland, sometimes shores.
  • Flowering time: June–September.

Red sand-spurrey is short-lived and only grows a few centimetres high, and it could be assumed that it is probably only familiar to botanists, but judging by the large number of folk names it has been given it has attracted the attention of a broader range of Finns. It is difficult to find before and after flowering. It keeps its flowers closed during unpleasant weather, but when the sun shines the flower mass makes an attractive sight, perhaps even right in the middle of a sandy track. Red sand-spurrey can stand a lot of trampling and can form stands up to several square metres large against walls and busy fields. It can even thrive in school yards, the edges of sports fields and parking places, which have too much traffic for most plants. Red sand-spurrey can also grow in cracks in the sidewalk or holes in asphalt and other parts of the city centre that don’t otherwise support plant life.

Red sand-spurrey thrives on culturally influenced land, but it has also used people to extend its habitat as far north as southern Lapland – with vehicles it can travel far along forest roads and with people it can reach huts in the middle of the forest and dwelling areas. The species favours inhabited areas and is lacking from real countryside and wild areas.

Salt sand-spurrey (S. salina) grows on sea shores and can be differentiated from red sand-spurrey on the basis of e.g. their stipules. Red sand-spurrey’s stipules are lanceolate and separate at the base while salt sand-spurrey’s are broadly triangular and united. Salt sand-spurrey also has less stamens. The species sometimes grow together on sea-shores and cross-breed, in which case the sharp-eyed botanist might find the intermediate form.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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