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Minuartia glabra (Michx.) Mattf.

Photo: Smooth Sandwort

Smooth Sandwort

Habitat: Open granitic ledges of mountains less than 1000 m tall. [Rocky summits and outcrops (non-forested, upland)]

Range: Local, New England and New York, south to the mountains of Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Photo: Smooth Sandwort

Aids to Identification: Smooth sandwort is an erect, glabrous herb with small white flowers and sessile (stalkless) leaves. The flowers, borne in groups of 3-7 per stem, are composed of a circle of 5 petals, each only 4-6 mm long. Likewise, the leaves are quite small, the upper measuring only 8-30 mm in length. M. glabra looks very similar to M. groenlandica, a species normally found on the higher mountains of western and central Maine. M. groenlandica is smaller with a dense tuft of basal leaves, 3-7 flowered cymes, and petals 6-10 mm long.

Ecological characteristics: This species is typically found in Maine along rocky outcrops on the coast and inland.

Phenology: Flowers May - September.

Family: Caryophyllaceae

Synonyms: Formerly known as Arenaria glabra Michx., Arenaria groenlandica (Retz.) Spreng. var. glabra (Michx.) Fern, Minuartia groenlandica ssp. glabra (Michx.) A. & D. Löve.

Photo: Smooth Sandwort

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 17 town(s) in the following county(ies): Cumberland, Hancock, Knox, Lincoln, Oxford, Penobscot, Sagadahoc, Somerset.

Dates of documented observations are: 1893, 1897, 18XX, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1958, 1982, 1990, 1991 (2), 1996 (6), 1997 (5), 1998 (4), 2000, 2002 (2)

Reason(s) for rarity: At northern limit of range.

Conservation considerations: Some populations could be threatened by heavy recreational (hiking) use of its hilltop habitat, but the plant appears to cope well with moderate disturbance.