Caryophyllaceae . . . . . Pink family

Other less common genera include Coral necklace (Illecebrum), Cowherb (Vaccaria) and Gypsophila (Gypsophila)

Choose between groups:

Chickweeds & Stitchworts (divided petals)
Pearlworts and Sandworts (undivided petals)
Campions and Pinks
Green Spurries etc

Campions, Catchflies & pinks - Choose between: Pink flowers or White flowers

Pink Campions, Catchflies & Pinks

Silene dioica
Silene flos-cuculi
Silene viscaria
Silene suecica
Red Campion
Ragged Robin
Alpine Catchfly

Silene conica
Silene acaulis
Agrostemma githago
Silene gallica ssp. quinquevulnera
Sand Catchfly
Moss Campion
Sand Catchfly

Dianthus deltoides
Dianthus gallicus
Dianthus armeria
Dianthus barbatus
Maiden Pink
Jersey Pink
Deptford Pink

Petrorhagia nanteuillii
Petrorhagia saxifraga
Saponaria officinalis
Silene coronaria
Childling Pink
Rose Campion

Other similar spp. :

Thrifts Frankenia; Geraniaceae

White Campions and Catchfies

Silene gallica
Silene nutans
Silene noctiflora
Silene latifolia
Small-flowered Catchfly
Nottingham Catchfly
Night-flowering Catchfly
White Campion

Silene uniflora
Silene vulgaris
Sea Campion
Bladder Campion

Spurries, Pearlworts, Sandworts: Choose between:

White flowers or Pink flowers or Green or no petals

White flowers: Choose between:

4-petals or 5-petals

White 4-petals

Sagina (4 petals)
Upright Chickweed

White 5-petals

Fine lvs (>3x as long as wide) - Mountain plants

Sabulina rubella
Sagina nivalis
Sagina saginoides
Sagina x normaniana
Mountain Sandwort
Snow Pearlwort
Alpine Pearlwort
Scottish Pearlwort

Fine lvs (>3x as long as wide) - Not high mountains

Sagina subulata
Sagina nodosa
Spergula arvensis
Spergularia bocconei
Heath Pearlwort
Knotted Pearlwort
Corn Spurrey
Greek Sea-spurrey

Sabulina verna
Sabulina tenuifolia
Spring Sandwort
Fine-leaved Sandwort

Broad lvs (<4x as long as wide)

Moehringia trinervia
Arenaria serpyllifolia
Arenaria balearica
Honckenya peploides
3-veined Sandwort
Thyme-lvd Sandwort
Mossy Sandwort
Sea Sandwort

See also the following tiny-flowered species
4-lvd Allseed

Similar spp.:
Linum cartharticum
Montia fontana
Fairy Flax


Spergularia rupicola
Spergularia rubra
Spergularia marina
Spergularia media
Rock Spurrey
Sand Spurrey
Lesser Sea-spurrey
Greater Sea-spurrey
fls >10mm; generally hairy
pedicels > capsule
sepals > petals
fls >10mm; stems hairless

Notes: Note differing no. of stamens in (10) and S. marina (1-5)

Spergularia bocconei
Greek Sea-spurrey

Green or apetalous Pearlworts, etc.

Cherleria sedoides
Sagina procumbens
Sagina maritima
Sagina nivalis

Mossy Cyphel
Procumbent Pearlwort
Sea Pearlwort
Snow Pearlwort

See also other similar spp.:

Polycarpon tetraphyllum
Scleranthus annuus
Herniaria glabra
Stellaria pallida
4-leaved Allseed
Annual Knawel
Smooth Rupturewort
Lesser chickweed

Chickweeds and Stitchworts:

N.B. Petals divided, often deeply giving appearance of 8-10 petals

Choose between:

Woolly-hairy; 5 styles Cerastium
Some glandular hairs; 5 styles Stellaria
Not sticky/hairy; 3 styles Stellaria etc.

Stitchworts (Stellaria, etc.)

Generally very deeply divided petals; Stellaria usually hairless to sparsely hairy

Stellaria media
Stellaria holostea
Stellaria nemorum
Stellaria palustris
Common Chickweed
Greater Stitchwort
Wood Stitchwort
Marsh Stitchwort

Stellaria alsine
Stellaria graminea
Stellaria pallida
Stellaria aquatica
Bog Stitchwort
Lesser Stitchwort
Lesser Chickweed
Water Chickweed

Has few hairs

Agrostemma . . . Corncockle

Agrostemma githago . . . Corncockle

A rare casual

Arenaria . . . Sandworts

Five entire petals, fruits with 6+ teeth (c.f. Sabulina where flowers have 3 styles and capsules with 3 teeth; and Sagina which have 4-5 of each)
There are a number of other Sandworts, all with petals longer than sepals, incl. some rare species

Arenaria balearica . . . Mossy Sandwort

Scattered throughout BI; fls on long stalks, stems hug the ground with small lvs

Arenaria serpyllifolia . . . Thyme-leaved Sandwort

Sepals 3-4 x >1 mm; open ground esp. on well-drained soils and by the sea throughout BI

Arenaria leptoclados . . . Slender Sandwort

Slenderer than A. serpyllifolia with smaller sepals (2-3 x <1 mm) and petals, and straight-sided fruit; open ground esp. on well-drained soils throughout BI

See also Other spurries, pearlworts and sandworts for alternatives

Cerastium . . . Mouse-ear (Mouse-ear-chickweeds)

Generally hairy to 'sticky-hairy'; several of the spp. hybidize; 5-styles (c.f. Stellaria with 3)

Cerastium spp. . . . . Mouse-ear

4 divided petals
5 divided petals
5 divided petals
Alpine spp.
Lowland spp.

Alpine or sub-arctic plants - generally densely hairy:

Alpine Mouse-ear
Alpine Mouse-ear
Arctic Mouse-ear
Edmonson's Mouse-ear

Starwort Mouse-ear (C. cerastoides) has 3 styles; a rare plant of Mts in NW Sc (esp. Ben Nevis area)

Lowland Britain - common species generally densely hairy

C. fontanum
C. glomeratum
C. semidecandrum
C. pumilum
Hairs not glandular
Sepals with long hairs extending beyond tip
Hairs glandular, petals < 2/3 length of sepals and sepals (and bracts) with broad silvery margins
Fls in 4s; petals=sepals; sepals with narrow silvery border

C. tomentosum
C. arvense
Densely white-hairy
Petals 2x length of sepals

Cerastium alpinum . . . Alpine Mouse-ear

Lvs with dense shaggy white hairs; restricted to mountains, almost entirely in Sc

Cerastium arvense . . . Field Mouse-ear

Lvs only slightly hairy, mostly at base; petals 2x length of sepals; scattered across BI, esp. E Br and W Ire

A similar, more common, woodland plant with longer lvs (>3 cm), 3 stigmas, hairless sepals, and more divided petals (>1/3rd) is
Stellaria holostea

Cerastium diffusum . . . Sea Mouse-ear

Dry sandy places round the coast - usually 4 divided petals

Do not confuse with the v. small Erophila (Whitlowgrass):

Cerastium fontanum . . . Common Mouse-ear

Widespread up to high altitude; petals <1.7x sepal length

Note mountain subsp. (ssp. scoticum) above 900 m in Angus

Cerastium glomeratum . . . Sticky Mouse-ear

Common; flowers in dense clusters with dense hairs on sepals extending beyond tip

Cerastium nigrescens . . . Arctic Mouse-ear

Local esp. on mountains in Sc and N Wa

Cerastium nigrescens var nigrescens . . . Edmonson's Mouse-ear

Rare variant (broader & more purple lvs) of the above on Unst serpentine soils

Cerastium pumilum . . . Dwarf Mouse-ear

Local in S on calcareous grassland; petals equal to sepals which hardly have scarious edges (cf. C. semidecandrum)

Cerastium semidecandrum . . . Little Mouse-ear

A tiny early flowering plant, mostly in the S; petals about 2/3 x sepals (cf. C. pumilum), top bracts significantly scarious, sepals with broad scarious edges

Cerastium tomentosum . . . Snow-in-summer

Widely naturalised in dry places

Cherleria (was in (Minuartia). . . . Cyphel

Cherleria sedoides . . . . Mossy Cyphel

Local on mountains in N & C Sc

Corrigiola . . . . Strapwort

Corrigiola littoralis . . . . Strapwort

Tiny with prostrate shoots; rare on sand/gravel in S. Devon

Dianthus . . . Pinks

Choose from:

Dianthus armeria . . . Deptford Pink

Very local, scattered in grassy places in S Br

Dianthus barbatus . . . Sweet-William

Widely planted, uncommonly escaping, rarely persisting

Dianthus deltoides . . . Maiden Pink

Local, CI and N to Moray

Dianthus gallicus . . . Jersey Pink

One site in Jersey, though probably introduced in 1890s; similar to Garden Pink (D. plumarius) but paler with shorter lvs on shoots

Other spp. include the rare Cheddar Pink (D. gratianopolitanus) (with hairs on upper surface of petals (see (1) below)), the pink commonly grown in gardens (D. plumarius) and the Carnation or Rose Pink (D. caryophyllus see (2)):
D. plumarius x D. gratianopolitanus
D. caryophyllus

Herniaria . . . Rupturewort

Herniaria glabra . . . Smooth Rupturewort

Rare on dry sandy ground - hard to distinguish from the rarer H. ciliolata (the sp. on Jersey), and H. hirsuta

Honckenya . . .Sea Sandwort

Honckenya peploides . . . Sea Sandwort

Beaches around all the coasts; (4th pic. - appearance in winter)

Minuartia . . . . Sandworts

Most spp. have been moved to Sabulina, with only the very rare M. recurva of SW Ire remaining.

Moehringia . . . Three-veined Sandwort

Moehringia trinervia . . . Three-veined Sandwort

Shady places and woods throughout BI

Chickweed (Stellaria media) is superficially similar but with divided petals

Moenchia . . . Upright chickweed

Moenchia erecta . . . Upright chickweed

Local, CI and S

Myosoton . . . . Water Chickweed

Myosoton aquaticum now see Stellaria aquatica

Petrorhagia . . . . Pinks

From 4 spp. known; most local or rare

Petrorhagia nanteuillii . . . Childling Pink

Locally common in CI, rare elsewhere; distinguished from P. prolifera by rounded swellings on seed surface; stems shortly hairy, leaf sheath length = 1.5-2 x width

Petrorhagia prolifera . . . Proliferous Pink

Rare in Norfolk, Teesside and Beds (this eg. from Italy); distinguished by granulose-netted seed surface; leaf sheath length = width

Petrorhagia saxifraga . . . Tunicflower

A rare naturalised escape

Polycarpon . . . Allseed

Polycarpon tetraphyllum . . . Four-leaved Allseed

CI, Scilly and SW

Sabulina (were included in Minuartia). . . . Sandworts

Mostly with 3 styles and capsules with 3 teeth (c.f. Sagina which have 4-5 of each, and Arenaria where capsules have 6+ teeth)
There are several other spp., mostly local or rare in Br and Ire

Sabulina rubella . . . Mountain Sandwort

Very local on base-rich mountains in N & C Sc

Sabulina tenuifolia . . . . Fine-leaved Sandwort

Rare to locally frequent in S Wa, S En and CI and has fls 6 mm across with petals << than white edged sepals

Sabulina verna . . . . . Spring Sandwort

Locally abundant on mine waste and base-rich soil in N En, N W, W Ire; petals just longer than sepals; somewhat similar to Sagina nodosa which has petals 2x length of sepals and no leaf veins

Also the rare Teesdale Sandwort (Sabulina stricta), only Teesdale

Sagina . . . Pearlworts

Choose between

Five-petalled Pearlworts:

Sagina nodosa . . . Knotted Pearlwort

Widespread, with tufts of leaves at upper nodes; can be confused with Sabulina verna (which has petals only slightly longer than sepals and 3-veined leaves only in pairs)

Sagina nivalis . . . Snow Pearlwort

Rare on high mountains in C Sc

Sagina saginoides . . . Alpine Pearlwort

Local on mountains in Sc; lvs with negligible point; on Ben Lawers grows with the hybrid below

Sagina x normaniana . . . Scottish Pearlwort

Hybrid of S. saginoides & S. procumbens v. local on mountains in C Sc; lvs with negligible point; roots at nodes

Sagina subulata . . . Heath Pearlwort

Flowers on long stalks; lvs with clear point; on dry open ground esp. in Sc, W Wa and S and W En and CI

Sagina Flowers in fours (mostly); often without petals

Lvs with fine bristle point . . or . . Lvs without fine bristle point

Sagina lvs with fine bristle point: select from spp. below
S. procumbens
S. filicaulis
S. apetala
rooting at nodes
flat mature sepals
upright mature sepals

Sagina apetala . . . . Annual Pearlwort

Fine Annual plant with all shoots flowering; sepals acute/pointed, white-edged, erect in fruit; hairy edged lvs.

Sagina filicaulis . . . . Slender Pearlwort

Upright Annual plant with all shoots flowering; sepals red-tinged; sepals less rounded than S. procumbens (which is a more solid plant), spreading in fruit

Sagina procumbens . . . Procumbent Pearlwort

Perennial with some non-flowering shoots and rooting runners; Common widespread sprawling garden weed; perennial with some non-flowering shoots; petals tiny or 0.

Sagina lvs without bristle tip (or <0.1mm):

Sagina maritima . . . Sea Pearlwort

Round coasts and spreading along motorways; annual without rooting runners, lvs blunt without significant bristle point

See also for 4 petals: Moenchia erecta

Saponaria . . . Soapwort

Saponaria officinalis . . . Soapwort

A common garden throw-out over much of BI; often double fls

Scleranthus . . . Knawel

Scleranthus annuus . . . Annual Knawel

Dry sandy soil but rare in Ire and NW Sc

Perennial Knawel (S. perennis) is similar but with sterile shoots at flowering; rare in E Anglia

Silene . . . . . Campions

Select from the various alternatives (chosen from c. 24 Br spp.) below, or go to key to Silenes:

Silene acaulis . . . Moss Campion

Local on mountains

Silene conica . . . Sand Catchfly

Very local in CI, E.Anglia, scattered elsewhere

Silene coronaria . . . Rose Catchfly

A scattered garden escape

Silene dioica . . . Red Campion

Common and flowering most of the year; common throughout Br and N Ire, less so in S Ire; usu. red but can be pink or white

Can uncommonly have white fls (resembling S. latifolia, tho' then lack red colour in stem/sepals)

Silene flos-cuculi . . . Ragged Robin

Common in damp places

Silene gallica . . . Small-flowered Catchfly

Scattered in S Br, common in places such as CI, Scilly

Silene gallica -var. quinquevulnera . . . Red-spotted Small-flowered Catchfly

Lesss common than the above

Silene latifolia . . . White Campion

Less common in N & W

Usu distinguished from white S. dioica by non-recurved teeth of fruit, and by presence of colour on stem/sepals (pic 2):

Silene noctiflora . . . Night-flowering Catchfly

Note finely pointed sepals; uncommon mostly in the E and S of Br

Silene nutans . . . Nottingham Catchfly

Scattered but locally common in CI and S to N Wa

Silene suecica . . . Alpine Catchfly (ex. Lychnis alpina)

Rare - only on serpentine rock in Cumberland/Angus

Silene uniflora . . . Sea Campion

Common close to the sea

Silene viscaria . . . Sticky Catchfly

Very local in the wild in Wales/Scotland near sea; commonly planted

Silene vulgaris . . . Bladder Campion

Somewhat similar to S. uniflora but with many flowers on a shoot; tends towards night flowering; widespread esp. on basic soils

Spergula . . . Spurrey

Spergula arvensis . . . Corn Spurrey

5 stamens; mostly on sandy cultivated land throughout the BI

Spergularia . . . Spurrey

Choose from:
S. bocconei
S. marina
S. media
S. rubra
Greek Sea-spurrey
Greater Sea-spurrey
Sand Spurrey

S. rupicola
S. arvensis
see Sagina
see Sabulina
Rock Spurrey
Corn Spurrey
see Pearlworts
see Sandworts

Spergularia bocconei . . . Greek Sea-spurrey

Local CI, rare elsewhere esp. in SW; Very sticky-hairy upper part of shoot; petals less than sepals and c.2 mm; flower stalk shorter than sepals

Spergularia marina . . . Lesser Sea-spurrey

Flowers deep pink (paler centres), only 5-8 mm across, usually <7 stamens; stipules brownish (c.f. S. rubra); lvs blunt; seeds with wide rim; common around coasts

Spergularia media . . . Greater Sea-spurrey

Flowers 10-12 mm across, 10 stamens; lvs +/-hairless; compare with S. marina (see Left of final image); common around coasts of BI; seeds with wide wing-like rim

Spergularia rubra . . . Sand Spurrey

Flowers light pink, <8mm, stipules silver, lvs with fine points ; common often not by the sea

Spergularia rupicola . . . Rock Spurrey

Flowers >6 mm; plant glandular hairy, grey-green lvs; Much more restricted than other similar spp. - confined to CI, SW and W of En Wa and S Sc, and the coast of Ire

Stellaria . . . Stitchworts

Stellarias have deeply divided white petals (often looking as if they have 10 petals) and 3 stigmas (exc. S. aquatica) (cf Cerastium with 5)
Select from the 7 following spp.:

Stellaria alsine . . . Bog Stitchwort

Leaves oval (c.f. linear lvs of S. palustris), petals shorter than sepals; widespread by streams and wet places

Stellaria aquatica . . . . Water Chickweed (was Myosoton aquaticum)

Has 5 styles, largely replaces the similar (3-styled) Wood Stitchwort (Stellaria nemorum) in the S of Br; marshes and ditches (photo Richard Robinson)

See also Stellaria nemorum:

Stellaria graminea . . . Lesser Stitchwort

Petals c.= sepals; Common and widespread

Stellaria holostea . . . Greater Stitchwort

Petals >> sepals, divided >1/3, rough edges to leaves, square stems; common in woodland throughout BI

Very similar but with 5 stigmas, hairy sepals, short lvs (<c.2cm), and petals divided to <1/3rd, is
Cerastium arvense

Stellaria media . . . Chickweed

Common; broad soft leaves

Three-veined Sandwort (Moehringia) is superficially similar but usually in woodland with clearly three-veined lvs and undivided petals

Stellaria nemorum . . . Wood Stitchwort

Shady woods; Br N of line from Wash to Lancs, but not NW Sc; can be confused with Stellaria aquatica - but that has 5 stigmas and occurs primarily in the S

See also Stellaria aquatica

Stellaria pallida . . . Lesser Chickweed

Locally frequent on bare sandy soil and near coasts, exc. W Ire and W Sc; flowers early and usually appears as a pale yellowish plant, dying by May or so; petals small or 0

Stellaria palustris . . . Marsh Stitchwort

Leaves linear (c.f. S. alsine with oval lvs), petals longer than sepals; local in base-rich marshes N to C Sc