Spergularia rubra
purple sandspurry

Alaska Wildflowers | White

Open blossom of Spergularia rubra, commonly known as purple sandspurry

Spergularia rubra
purple sandspurry

Common Names

spergulaire rouge
red sand-spurrey
red sandspurry
purple sand-spurrey
purple sandspurry
ruby sand-spurrey

Synonyms

Arenaria rubra
Spergularia rubra var. perennans
Tissa rubra

Subspecies

none

Genus: Spergularia
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Order: Caryophyllales
taxonomic heirarchy

Duration – Growth Habit

Annual or short-lived perennial – Forb/herb



Identification and Information

Spergularia rubra, commonly known as purple sandspurry or red sandspurry, is an introduced species in North America that grows from a slender taproot. It is an annual or short-lived perennial. The stems are usually many-branched and prostrate but can be erect to ascending. The plant lacks basal leaves. The stem leaves are oppositely arranged, usually in bunches, linear or filiform (threadlike), fleshy, tapered at the tip, and 5-20 mm long.

The inflorescence consists of simple to 3-compound cymes, with each featuring a few flowers clustered together, often in a leafy cluster. The flowers can also appear singly and are typically axillary. The flowers display 5 pink to pale red, ovate, or egg-shaped petals about 2-3.5 mm long and 5 purple or greenish, lanceolate, and glandular-hairy sepals about 3.5-5 mm long. The capsules are greenish to tan, 3-valved, and 3-5 mm long. The seeds are red-brown to dark brown without wings.

Flowering spring-fall.


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Uses

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

No traditional, medicinal, or culinary uses were found.


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Distribution and Habitat

Map data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), NatureServe Explorer, and Kew

Spergularia rubra, originally native to Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia, is an introduced species throughout North and South America, including Alaska. The first verified specimen in North America dates back to Baltimore in 1878, although there are records of the plant as early as 1848 (NEMESIS, 2024). It is believed to have arrived primarily via dry ballast—rocks, soil, and sand used to stabilize ships during sea voyages. The species is notably absent from the central and southeastern regions of the United States and central Canada.

Its habitat includes open forests, gravelly glades, meadows, steppe and lower montane zones, mud flats, roadsides, and other dry to mesic disturbed places.

Classification

RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae (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) 
GenusSpergularia (Pers.) J. Presl & C. Presl (sandspurry) 
SpeciesSpergularia rubra (L.) J. Presl & C. Presl (purple sandspurry, red sandspurry)

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References and Further Reading

Guidebook

Brandenburg, D. M. 2010. National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Wildflowers of North America. Sterling Publishing. (p. 192)

Classification and Taxonomy

Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). (n.d.). Spergularia rubra. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=20153#null

Brouillet, L., et al. (n.d.). VASCAN, the Database of Vascular Plants of Canada. Spergularia rubra. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from https://data.canadensys.net/vascan/taxon/4421?lang=en

USDA, NRCS. (n.d.). The PLANTS Database. Spergularia rubra. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from https://plants.usda.gov/home/plantProfile?symbol=SPRU

Uses

none

Map and Distribution

GBIF. (n.d.). Spergularia rubra. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from https://www.gbif.org/species/3085633

Plants of the World Online. (n.d.). Spergularia rubra. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from https://powo.science.kew.org/taxon/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:158983-1

NatureServe Explorer. (n.d.). Spergularia rubra. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from https://explorer.natureserve.org/Taxon/ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.145087/Spergularia_rubra

National Exotic Marine and Estuarine Species Information System. (2024). Species summary for Spergularia rubra. Chesapeake Bay Introduced Species Database. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from https://invasions.si.edu/nemesis/chesreport/species_summary/Spergularia%20rubra

Description and Information

Flora of North America. (n.d.). Spergularia rubra. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from http://floranorthamerica.org/Spergularia_rubra

Hultén, E. (1968). Flora of Alaska and Neighboring Territories: A Manual of the Vascular Plants (1st ed.) (pg. 438). Stanford University Press.

E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia. (n.d.). Spergularia rubra. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from https://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/Atlas/Atlas.aspx?sciname=Spergularia%20rubra&redblue=Both&lifeform=7

 

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