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

Stellaria borealis subsp. sitchana Bigelow (Steud.) Piper
boreal starwort (Sitka starwort)
Caryophyllaceae (Pink family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #7529)

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Distribution of Stellaria borealis subsp. sitchana
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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


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 bongardiana (Fern.) A. Davids. & Moxley
Alsine brachypetala (Bong.) Howell
Stellaria bongardiana Fern.
Stellaria borealis subsp. bongardiana (Fern.) Piper & Beattie
Stellaria borealis var. bongardiana Fern.
Stellaria borealis var. sitchana (Steud.) Fern.
Stellaria brachypetala var. bongardiana Fern.
Stellaria calycantha var. bongardiana (Fernald) Fernald
Stellaria calycantha var. sitchana (Steud.) Fernald
Stellaria sitchana Steud.
Stellaria sitchana var. bongardiana (Fern.) HultTn

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References