Pseudostellaria jamesiana

One common name for Pseudostellaria jamesiana, sticky starwort, is appropriate for a plant that is covered with glandular hairs and has flowers shaped like stars. Other common names for this member of the Pink Family are tuber starwort and sticky chickweed. “Starwort” means “star plant”. The genus name comes from the Latin and means “false star”. This is because sticky starwort resembles members of the Stellaria genus, but is no longer classified in that genus. As a result, sticky starwort is often referred to in the literature by its former name, Stellaria jamesiana. Edwin P James (1797 – 1861) is honored by the species designation. James was an American naturalist and botanical explorer who, along with two others, was the first to climb Pike’s Peak.

Sticky starwort is a native perennial found west of the Rockies and in Texas. It grows in various habitats, particularly sagebrush flats and coniferous forests.

The stems of sticky starwort are 4-angled and arise from tuberous rhizomes. The opposite, sessile (without a stalk) leaves are lance-shaped and sharp-tipped.

Sticky starwort has few to many flowers, each arising from a leaf axil. The five, pointed sepals are about half the length of the five white petals. Each petal is deeply clefted. There are usually ten stamens and one pistil. The pistil separates into three styles.

One to three reddish-brown seeds are contained in each fruit, a capsule.

These sticky starwort plants were photographed in June along Modoc County (CA) Road 40 in the Warner Mountains.

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