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Lime Barren Sandwort, Glade Sandwort, Pitcher's Stitchwort - Mononeuria patula


Family: Caryophyllaceae - Pink family Genus Common Name: Stitchwort Native Status: NativeDicot Annual Herb
Mononeuria patula - Lime Barren Sandwort, Glade Sandwort, Pitcher's Stitchwort. Mononeuria patula is a new name for Limestone Barren Sandwort. Until 2014 it was known as Minuartia patula, and before that name it was known as Arenaria patula. Minuartia was a large and varied genus, with over 175 species in the Northern Hemisphere, 33 in North America. Dillenberger and Kadereit, in their 2014 paper Maximum polyphyly: Multiple origins and delimitation with plesiomorphic characters require a new circumscription of Minuartia (Caryophyllaceae), proposed taking most of the species out of Minuartia and placing most of them in 10 additional genera, including Mononeuria, into which the species presented here was placed, along with 8 other species. These 9 species are characterized by being annual or biennial, and have notch-tipped (or at least flattened) petals which are twice as long as the sepals. While most publications still use the Minuartia name, it seems that the reclassification to Mononeuria patula has been widely accepted, so I'm going with that name.

Mononeuria patula is a plant of rocky outcrops and meadows and openings in limestone barrens and cedar glades in the east-central part of the United States, from eastern Texas and Oklahoma north to Minnesota and east to Pennsylvania south to Georgia and Alabama. It is protected in at least Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Note that another species, Mononeuria muscorum, is also known by the common name Limestone Barren Sandwort. The differences in the two species are difficult; M. muscorum will have 3-veined sepals, while those of M. patula may have either 3 or more frequently 5 veins. The leaves of M. muscorum are usually longer and wider than those of M. patula.

Found in:
AL, AR, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MN, MO, MS, OH, OK, PA, TN, TX, VA, WI
Mononeuria patula

Distribution of Mononeuria patula in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 16 Dec 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Couchville Cedar Glade, Davidson County, TN Date: 2017-May-11Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
Mononeuria patula has 5 white petals which are emarginate - notched at the apex. This notch is one of the characteristics used to distinguish Mononeuria from other genera separated from Minuartia
Mononeuria patula

Site: Couchville Cedar Glade, Davidson County, TN Date: 2017-May-11Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The flowers of Limestone Barren Sandwort are carried in an open inflorescence of up to 30 flowers. The pedicels are from an eighth of an inch up to a bit over an inch long, have glandular hairs, and are subtended by small bracts which are linear to ovate. The light green sepals are lanceolate with an acute or acuminate tip, and are usually about half as long as the petals. You probably can't tell from this resized photo, but in the original you can see 5 veins on the sepal, distinguishing these plants as Mononeuria patula rather than Mononeuria muscorum.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Mononeuria patula

Site: Couchville Cedar Glade, Davidson County, TN Date: 2017-May-11Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The flowers of Mononeuria patula are really small - my thumbnail is 3/4" across.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Mononeuria patula

Site: Couchville Cedar Glade, Davidson County, TN Date: 2017-May-11Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
While a single plant with only a few tiny flowers might be easy to overlook, Limestone Barren Sandwort can grow in large colonies, making them quite prominent in the open, rocky barrens where they grow.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Mononeuria patula

Site: Couchville Cedar Glade, Davidson County, TN Date: 2016-March-30Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The internodes on the plant can be up to 7 times as long as the leaves (in densely foliated plants the internode may be about as long as the leaf), and since the leaves are linear and less than an inch long, the plant can almost seem like just stems and flowers. These leaves are opposite, joined at their bases (connate), and can be straight, or curved as shown by those in the upper left of this photograph.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Mononeuria patula

References used for identification and information:

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer