Alternate name: Field Mouse-ear Chickweed
Family: Caryophyllaceae, Carnation view all from this family
Description A plant with several stems leaning on the ground, and a white flower blooming at the end of each of the few branches of the nearly leafless flower cluster. Below the point where leaves attach the stem are downward-pointing hairs, those in flower cluster tipped with glands.
Habit: native annual herb; velvety stems; variable appearance, may be erect, creeping, clumping, or mat-forming.
Height: 2-20 in (50-500 mm)
Leaf: at base, gray-green, velvety, linear to narrowly oblong, to 1.2 in (30 mm) long, to 0.25 in (6 mm) wide; on stem, opposite, few.
Flower: white, green to yellow center, terminal, 5-parted, 0.5 in (12 mm) wide; petals are 2-lobed, faintly striped, sepals half as long as petals; held singly or in cluster of up to 20 flowerheads.
Fruit: capsule, horn-shaped, 0.3-0.5 in (8-12 mm) long, to 0.15 in (4 mm) diameter; opening from tip to display 10 tiny teeth.
Flower April to August.
Habitat Open, rocky or sandy areas, salty or limy soil: forests, grassy areas, meadows, pastures, disturbed areas; to 11,000 ft (3350 m).
Range Northern Hemisphere; south in the West to northern California, northern Arizona, and southern New Mexico; not reported in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, Florida, or the Carolinas.
Discussion Also known as starry grasswort. Cerastium, from the Greek keras (horn), refers to the capsule, which is tapered and, in some species, bent slightly like a cows horn. Up to five subspecies have been proposed.
The very similar Mountain Chickweed (C. beeringianum), which grows at high elevations in Americas western mountains, has green-edged bracts in the flower cluster.