Sticky sandspurry (Spergularia macrotheca) is a member of the Pink Family (Caryophyllaceae). This perennial native has a woody, thickened base and taproot from which several, leafy, reclining to sprawling stems arise. The entire plant is covered in glandular hairs and is sticky to the touch. Often the entire plant is blanketed in sand adhering to the tacky hairs.
Two to several opposite leaves occur in each sticky sandspurry stem node. The narrowly linear leaves are abruptly pointy-tipped. Each node also has a pair of papery, membranous stipules.
Several to many small white, pinkish to lavender, ovate, sticky sandspurry flowers occur in the leaf axils or at the ends of stems. The five petals are shorter than the five pointed sepals. There are ten stamens and a superior ovary with three styles.
Several dark reddish-brown wingless (or some have a narrow rim) seeds are contained in a three-valved capsule.
S macrotheca is also commonly called beach sand-spurry. It is found in salt marshes, sandy coastal beaches and alkali sinks in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California. These specimens were photographed on Preston Island (actually a peninsula) at the west end of 9th Street in Crescent City CA (Del Norte County).
The genus name, Spergularia, means “resembling the genus Spergula“. Spargere or spargo meaning “to scatter” in Latin is the base of Spergula, referring to the fact that some seeds of plants in this genus were sowed for forage in Europe. The species name comes from the Greek words “macro/large” and “theko/cover or container”.