Caryophyllaceae (Pink Family)
Annual or perennial herbs. Leaves mostly opposite, linear, often needle-like. Sepals separate or united in a tube. Petals small or lacking.
Arenaria aculeataWatson. Prickly Sandwort. (Arenaria kingii [Watson] Jones var. glabrescens [Watson] Maguire) (Plate 6.62) Plants perennial with stems somewhat matted at the base, 4–8 in (1–2 dm) high. Leaves stiff and needle-like, up to 3/4 in (2 cm) long, mostly basal, only two pairs on a stem. Flowers about 1/4 in (16 mm) long with five petals, about the same length as the sepals, in loose terminal cymes. Flower: White.
Distribution. Dry, rocky places; Desert Scrub to Alpine Zone, 6,000–12,600 ft (1,829–3,841 m).
Arenaria kingii(Watson) Jones ssp. compacta(Coville) Maguire. Alpine Sandwort. (Plate 6.63) Similar to A. aculeata but more compact. Stems are less than 2 1/2 in (6.4 cm) long, and leaves are only about 1/4 in (6 mm) long. Flower: White.
Distribution. Near or above timberline, mostly on limestone; Subalpine and Alpine zones; 10,000–12,500 ft (3,049–3,811 m).
Arenaria macradeniaWatson ssp. macradeniavar.parishiorumB.L. Robinson. Lime Sandwort. (Plate 6.64) Perennial with stems 8–15 in (2–3.5 dm) tall. Basal leaves are like A. kingii, but most are about 1 in (2.5 cm) long, with the several pairs on the stem reduced. Petals are about 1/4 in (6 mm) long, barely exceeding the sepals. Flower: Greenish yellow.
Distribution. Rocky canyons, limestone areas; Desert Scrub, 4,000–6,500 ft (1,220–1,982 m).
Var.macradeniaWatson. Mojave Sandwort. Similar to var. parishiorum but has larger flowers. Its petals are about 1 1/2 times as long as the sepals. Flower: White.
Distribution. Rare in southern part of the Inyo Mountains; Desert Scrub, 6,500 ft (1,982 m).
Scopulophila rixfordii(Bdg.) Munz & Johnston. Rixford Rockwort. (Plate 6.65) A rounded perennial, 4–8 in (1–2 dm) high, from a woody root crown. Tufts of pale beige wool at the base of the numerous stems are a distinguishing feature. The narrow leaves are in pairs on the stems. Although the flowers have no petals, they are so numerous that the tissuelike sepals give the plant a frosty appearance when in full bloom. Flower: Sepals translucent with a central green spot.
Distribution. Dry limestone cliffs; Inyo Mountains; Desert Scrub, 4,000–7,000 ft (1,463–2,134 m).
Silene bernardinaWatson ssp. maguirei.Maguire Campion. Perennial with stems 6–18 in (15–45 cm) tall. Leaves in pairs on the stems, mostly linear-lanceolate, 1–2 in (2.5–5 cm) long. Flower calyx tubular, 1/2 in (13 mm) long, pale with vertical dark lines. Five 4-lobed petals protrude from the calyx. Flower: Whitish, commonly tinged with pink or purple.
Distribution. Rocky slopes; Pinyon-juniper Woodland and Subalpine Zone, 8,000–10,700 ft (2,439–3,262 m).
Note: Silene verecunda Watson ssp. andersonii (Clokey) Hitch & Maguire, Anderson Campion, is similar, but the petals are two-lobed and the flowers greenish white.
Stellaria longipesGoldie. Creek Stellaria. (Plate 6.66) Perennial from creeping rootstocks, 4–10 in (1–2.4 dm) high, somewhat tufted. Leaves lanceolate, 1/4–3/4 in (6–20 mm) long, in pairs on the slender stems. Flower petals deeply two-parted, about 3/16 in (5 mm) long. Although small, the dainty flowers with prominent dark stamens are most attractive. Flower: White.
Distribution. Streamlets and meadow borders; Desert Scrub and Subalpine Zone, 6,000–11,500 ft (1,829–3,506 m).