Arctic Sandwort – Minuartia arctica

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Alaska Wildflowers | White

Arctic sandwort - Minuartia arctica

Arctic sandwort

Minuartia arctica (Steve ex Ser.) Graebn.

Common Names

Arctic sandwort
Arctic stitchwort

Synonyms

Arenaria arctica
Lidia arctica

Genus: Minuartia L. (stitchwort)
Family: Caryophyllaceae (pink)
Order: Caryophyllales
Full Classification

Duration

Perennial

Uses

For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.

Unknown. No information on uses, edibility, or toxicity. Very little information is available on uses for any plants in the Minuartia genus. There are listings for uses in the Native American Ethnobotany Database (NAEB: search string: Arenia) for other sandworts under the genus Arenaria which is no longer an accepted name. However, the plants fall under different genera. Most of these uses fell under the categories of dermatological aids, eye medicines, or respiratory aids (mostly using the root). With no peer-reviewed research or medicinally sound evidence for the medical use of any sandwort, and with the lack of information regarding the edibility or toxicity of arctic sandwort, it would probably not be wise to use this plant for food or medicine.

Identification and Information

USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913.

Arctic sandwort is a mat-forming perennial herb that grows from a woody taproot. Its leaves are tightly overlapping, variably spaced, short, narrow, connate, and densely packed on the stem. There is a solitary flower on each stem, often with many tightly spaced flowers rising 3-10 cm (1-4 in) above the mat.

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The flowers are hypanthium cup-shaped with 5 petals and 5 sepals with 3 veins approximately half the length of the petals. The petals 4-8 mm in diameter, approximately twice the size of the sepals. The flower is typically white or slightly pink often with purple or pink color near the base of the petal or on the margins. The seeds are brown and about 1.2-1.6 mm.

It is worth noting that Minuartia arctica frequently hybridizes with other Minuartias.

Distribution and Habitat

Minuartia arctica is found in Alaska, the Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, and British Columbia. It is also documented in Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and far eastern Siberia.

Arctic sandwort grows in what are typically considered inhospitable conditions like rocky or gravelly dry areas, stony tundra, and is frequently found in alpine tundra.

Classification

RankScientific Name (common name)
Kingdom Plantae (plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants)
SubkingdomViridiplantae  (green plants)
InfrakingdomStreptophyta  (land plants)
SuperdivisionEmbryophyta 
DivisionTracheophyta  (vascular plants, tracheophytes)
SubdivisionSpermatophytina  (spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames)
ClassMagnoliopsida 
SuperorderCaryophyllanae 
OrderCaryophyllales 
FamilyCaryophyllaceae  (pinks, cariophyllacées)
GenusMinuartia L. (sandwort, stitchwort)
SpeciesMinuartia arctica (arctic stitchwort)

References and Further Reading

Guidebook

Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 64

Classification

Minuartia arctica  (Steven ex Ser.) Graebn., ITIS Database

Minuartia arctica (Stev. ex Ser.) Graebn. arctic stitchwort, USDA Database

Distribution

Minuartia arctica Arctic Stitchwort, NatureServe Explorer

Description

1. Minuartia arctica (Steven ex Seringe) Graebner in P. F. A. Ascherson et al., Syn. Mitteleur. Fl. 5(1): 772. 1918., Flora of North America – www.eFloras.org

Diagram: USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 54.

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