E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Stellaria borealis Bigelow subsp. borealis
boreal starwort
Caryophyllaceae (Pink family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #71211)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Stellaria borealis subsp. borealis
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a long rhizome; stems prostrate to ascending, glabrous or pimply above, 15-50 cm tall/long.
Basal leaves lacking or soon deciduous; stem leaves linear-lanceolate to lanceolate, sometimes narrowly egg-shaped to elliptic, 2-6 cm long, opposite, unstalked, glabrous, not net-veined, margins minutely toothed.
Inflorescence of solitary flowers in leaf axils or few to many flowers on branch tips; petals white, sometimes lacking, nearly as long as the sepals; sepals 5, sometimes 4, green, 1- to 3-nerved, lanceolate, abruptly sharp-pointed.
Capsules egg-shaped, usually dark brown to straw-coloured, translucent to opaque, 4.5-7.5 mm high, more than 1.5 times as high as wide; seeds smooth to wrinkled, reddish-brown, 1.0-1.2 mm long.
This species belongs to the highly variable S. calycantha complex which was first monographed for North America by Fernald (1940). More recently, Morton and Rabeler (1989) have presented a revision of the complex that separates S. borealis from S. calycantha. It would appear most of our material in northwestern North America, according to Morton and Rabeler (1989), now belongs to S. borealis. In BC two subspecies of S. borealis are recognized:

1. Sepals egg-shaped to triangular, midrib extending to near the tip, lateral nerves only visible near the base; capsules dark brown and opaque as they open; seeds smooth or indistinctly wrinkled; leaves widest just below the middle, usually 2-3 cm long................... ssp. borealis

1. Sepals narrowly triangular, with three prominent nerves; capsules straw-coloured and translucent; seeds usually wrinkled; leaves widest near the base, usually 3-6 cm long................. ssp. sitchana (Steud.) Piper

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Wet to moist meadows, streambanks, shrub thickets and open forests in the lowland and montane zones; common throughout BC except lacking along the coast (ssp. borealis), common along the coast and in S BC south of 52degreeN, infrequent elsewhere except lacking in NE BC (ssp. sitchana); N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and NS and S to NY, MI, MN, NM, AZ and CA (ssp. borealis), N to AK and YT and S to SD, WY and CA (ssp. sitchana).

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Stellaria borealis ssp. borealis

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 1550 1550 1550
Slope Gradient (%) 35 35 35
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
252 251 252
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 4 4
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: SWB(1)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Alsine borealis (Bigelow) Britt.
Spergulastrum lanceolatum Michx.
Stellaria borealis var. floribunda Fern.
Stellaria borealis var. isophylla Fern.
Stellaria calycantha subsp. interior Hult╬śn
Stellaria calycantha var. floribunda (Fern.) Fern.
Stellaria calycantha var. isophylla (Fernald) Fernald
Stellaria calycantha var. latifolia Boivin
Stellaria calycantha var. laurentiana Fern.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References