Starworts are slender annual or perennial, usually more or less rhizome-bearing herbs, often with 4-angled stems. The leaves are stalkless or the lower ones short-stalked, the shape ovate or oblong to lanceolate or linear, usually slightly joined at the base. Stipules are lacking. The flowers have both stamens and pistils, are regular, grow single in the leaf axils or in axil-borne or terminal, membranous- to leafy-bracted clusters on slender individual flower stalks. The separated sepals are usually 5, rarely 4. There are usually 5 petals, rarely 4, white, deeply to shallowly 2-lobed. Sometimes they are rudimentary or even lacking. The stamens have the parts attached on the receptacle below the ovary, they are usually 10, sometimes 5 or fewer. There are usually 3 styles, occasionally 4, or in 1 species 5. The stigmas are linear. The capsule is ovoid to cylindric-ovoid, 1-celled, eventually splitting open by twice as many teeth as styles. The capsule contains several to many seeds which are yellowish-brown, finely net-veined to wrinkled and covered with warty bumps. The genus consists of about 100 species worldwide, widely distributed but most common in the N. Temperate Zone. The name comes from the Latin stella, star, in reference to the shape of the flowers.
Guide to Identify Presented Species of Genus Stellaria
LEAVES LANCEOLATE. PETALS SHORTER THAN SEPALS OR LACKING
S. media Common Starwort Trailing, matted plant, common garden weed, widespread on disturbed sites.
Flowers small, white, several clustered on stem tops, sepals hairy.
Leaves juicy green, broadly egg-shaped, short-stalked.
LEAVES LINEAR OR NARROWLY LANCEOLATE. PETALS LONGER THAN SEPALS
S. longipes Long-stalked Starwort Small, hairless herb, slender, growing in small tufts at higher elevations.
Flowers white, about 1 cm wide, petals longer than sepals, on long stalks.
Leaves are bluish-gray, stiff, stalkless, lance-shaped to linear, pointed.