Minuartia arctica (Steve ex Ser.) Graebn.
Genus: Minuartia L. (stitchwort)
Family: Caryophyllaceae (pink)
For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.
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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
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.
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.
|Rank||Scientific Name (common name)|
|Kingdom||Plantae (plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants)|
|Subkingdom||Viridiplantae (green plants)|
|Infrakingdom||Streptophyta (land plants)|
|Division||Tracheophyta (vascular plants, tracheophytes)|
|Subdivision||Spermatophytina (spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames)|
|Family||Caryophyllaceae (pinks, cariophyllacées)|
|Genus||Minuartia L. (sandwort, stitchwort)|
|Species||Minuartia arctica (arctic stitchwort)|
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References and Further Reading
Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 64
Minuartia arctica (Steven ex Ser.) Graebn., ITIS Database
Minuartia arctica (Stev. ex Ser.) Graebn. arctic stitchwort, USDA Database
Minuartia arctica Arctic Stitchwort, NatureServe Explorer
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.