Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Hairy Forked Nailwort - Paronychia fastigiata   (Rafinesque) Fernald
Members of Caryophyllaceae:
Members of Paronychia with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Caryophyllales » Family Caryophyllaceae
Author(Rafinesque) Fernald
DistributionPresent over most of the Mountains, and sparingly into the Piedmont; a few Coastal Plain records.

This is a widespread species of the Eastern and Central states, ranging north to ME and MN and south to western FL and eastern TX. However, it is scarce in much of the Southeast.
AbundanceFairly common to frequent in the northern Mountains and adjacent northwestern Piedmont; infrequent to fairly common elsewhere in the Mountains. Rare to uncommon in the Piedmont, more so in northern counties; very rare in the central and western Coastal Plain. There are three varieties in the state, but many if not most specimens have not been doled out into appropriate varieties, and the website maps for these are not completed.
HabitatAs with P. canadensis, this species grows in dry, often rocky upland areas, mostly in partial shade. It grows along upland trail margins, edges of rock outcrops, openings in xeric or upland forests, and other similar dry places. The Moore County population grows on Iredell soil in the Piedmont.
PhenologyBlooms from June to October, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a small herb, somewhat less slender than P. canadensis, with noticeably pubescent stems that have many ascending branches; it grows to about 6-8 inches tall. The leaves are opposite and oblanceolate to narrowly elliptic, about 2/3-inch long and about 1/5 as wide, but with a cuneate base (as opposed to more elliptic leaves with a rounded base in P. canadensis). The leaves also are rather thick and stiff, whereas the other species has thin leaves. The many small flowers are in axils of small bracts or leaves in the upper part of the plant, but have no petals and sepals with a narrow white margin. Thus, the flowers are quite similar to those in P. canadensis, so separate the two by the hairy stem, thick leaves, and narrower and wedge-shaped leaves of this species. Separation characters for the three varieties are beyond the scope of this website; check Weakley (2018) and other references for details. Note that P. montana was fairly recently split off from this species; that species has mostly horizontal branches, as well as short leaves only 2/5-inch long, as well as a few other small characters. It seems to grow only in quite exposed crevices of rocks, such as on granitic domes.
Taxonomic CommentsWeakley (2018) lists three varieties in the state -- var. fastigiata, var. nuttallii, and var. palaecea; plus, P. montana has been split off recently from this species.

Other Common Name(s)Low-forked Chickweed
State RankS4? [S3S4]
Global RankG5
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