Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Lesser Thymeleaf Sandwort - Arenaria leptoclados   (Reichenbach) Gussone
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Section 6 » Family Caryophyllaceae
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Author(Reichenbach) Gussone
DistributionThis species is often lumped with A. serpyllifolia, but as Weakley (2018) and some others pull this out from that species, there is now much uncertainty about the identity of specimens of "A. serpyllifolia". Tentatively, this species occurs across the state, with a few gaps that will likely be filled over time. However, Weakley's (2018) map says it is rare in the Coastal Plain, and absent in the Piedmont and Mountains.

Native of Europe and western Asia, and northern Africa; in N.A. PA to KY and MO, south to FL and LA.
AbundanceFrequent to common in the Mountains, uncommon to fairly common elsewhere.
HabitatDry sandy roadsides, disturbed ground, maritime sandflats, sidewalk cracks, driveways, campus weed.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting March-June.
IdentificationThis sprawling to erect plant often grows less than 6 inches tall, but it may reach a foot. The stems are slender and pubescent, with pairs of tiny, ovate leaves. The flowers occur in terminal cymes, the sepals are green, and the petals are white and shorter than the sepals. Leaves of the native A. lanuginosa are much longer and relatively narrower; that is a rare species of coastal regions underlain by marl. The seeds of the very similar A. serpyllifolia are 0.5-0.6 mm long, versus less than 0.4 mm long for A. leptoclados. Also, that species has the capsule nearly straight-sided, as opposed to an ovoid capsule on A. serpyllifolia.
Taxonomic CommentsA synonym is A. serpyllifolia var. tenuior.

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