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Fendler's Sandwort Arenaria fendleri


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Fendler's Sandwort
credit: JerryFriedman/CCSA

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Family: Caryophyllaceae, Carnation view all from this family

Description A tufted plant with many slender stems, very narrow leaves, and numerous small white flowers in open branched clusters.
Habit: native perennial herb; stems sticky, shortly hairy, bluish-green;
Height: 4-12 in (10-30 cm) or sometimes more.
Leaf: upright, narrow, linear; at base, 0.125-0.5 in (3 to 11 cm) long; on stem, opposite, 5 or more pairs (rarely fewer).
Flower: papery, white to brown or pinkish-red to purple, 5-parted, 0.5 in (12 mm) wide; 5 sepals and 10 stamens with prominent tips. alternate with petals to form 10-pointed star; held in terminal cluster of up to 35 flowerheads.
Fruit: small capsule, around 0.25 in (6 mm).

Flower July to September.

Habitat Mountains, alpine, and subalpine zones: cliffs, ledges, rocky banks, sagebrush plains, pine forests, desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communities; 4000-14,000 ft (1200-4300 m); also cultivated ornamentally.

Range Wyoming south to Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas.

Discussion Also known as shrubby sandwort. Some botanists believe that the latin name should be changed to Eremogone fenderli. Four varieties are proposed. This common southern Rocky Mountain species gives the impression of numerous white stars in an airy tuft. There are a number of sandworts: Some form tight, sometimes prickly mats; others are tall and open but with flowers in tight heads.