[Sandworts: The Genus Eremogone East of the Cascade Mts. of Oregon and Washington]

Prickly Sandwort, Needleleaf Sandwort

Eremogone aculeata

Synonyms: Arenaria aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. unitahensis, Arenaria fendleri var. aculeata, Arenaria pumicola var. californica

Flower of Prickly Sandwort, Needleleaf Sandwort: Eremogone aculeata (Synonyms: Arenaria aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. unitahensis, Arenaria fendleri var. aculeata, Arenaria pumicola var. californica)

The photo above shows a close-up side view of a flower of prickly sandwort. Photographed near Granny View in Hells Canyon NRA in northeastern Oregon........June 26, 2007. Note the numerous gland-tipped hairs on stem and outer surface of the calyx, and the broad, white margins of each calyx lobe.

Prickly Sandwort, Needleleaf Sandwort: Eremogone aculeata (Synonyms: Arenaria aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. unitahensis, Arenaria fendleri var. aculeata, Arenaria pumicola var. californica)The photo at right shows prickly sandwort as photographed at Saddle Creek Campground in Hells Canyon NRA in northeastern Oregon........July 8, 1999.
Characteristics:

Prickly sandwort is a loosely tufted perennial wildflower with numerous sterile stems from 2-5 cm long with flowering stems erect and rising 8-20 cm high. The mats of leaves may attain diameters up to 20 cm wide, with the central portion of older mats often consisting of dead sterile stems. The lower leaves are crowded together (See photo below.), linear, 1-2.5 cm long glaucous and persisting for several years. They are stiff and sharply pointed (a good diagnostic characteristic-- ouch!) with some minute glandular hairs on the margins. The stems bear 2-4 pairs of reduced, opposite leaves (See photo at right.) which measure up to 5 mm long, or are at most one-half the length of the lower leaves.

The inflorescence is an open cyme of a few to several flowers. The ovate sepals have obtuse to broadly acute tips with membranous margins and measure 3.5-4 mm long. They are often purple margined or purplish at the tip (See photo above.). The 5 white petals are about 1.5- 2 times longer than the sepals. The 10 ascending to spreading stamens are about as long as the petals and bear reddish to brownish anthers at their tips. The pistil typically bears 3 short styles.


Similar Species:

Mountain Sandwort (Eremogone capillaris): The sepals are ovate with obtuse to broadly tapering to a short acute tip. Typically has lower leaves longer than 2 cm in length, softer in texture at the tips with the 2-4 pairs of stem leaves over one-half the length of the lower leaves.

King's Sandwort (Eremogone kingii): The sepals are broadly lanceolate to narrowly ovate with acute to accuminate tips. The lower leaves are over 2 cm long and and soft in texture. The 2-4 pairs of stem leaves are over one-half the length of the lower leaves, or may be nearly equal in length of the lower leaves.


Habitat:

Prickly sandwort is found on gravelly to rocky slopes from near 6000 feet up well into the alpine zone in the mountains.


Range:

Prickly sandwort may be found from northeastern Oregon south through the mountains of eastern Oregon to Nevada and northeastern California. It is found eastward through Idaho to western Montana.


Flower of Prickly Sandwort, Needleleaf Sandwort: Eremogone aculeata (Synonyms: Arenaria aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. unitahensis, Arenaria fendleri var. aculeata, Arenaria pumicola var. californica)

The photo above shows a close-up side view of a flower of prickly sandwort. Photographed near Granny View in Hells Canyon NRA in northeastern Oregon........June 26, 2007. Note the narrow width of the petals and how they splay outwards at a near perpendicular angle from the tip of the calyx tube.

Inflorescence of Prickly Sandwort, Needleleaf Sandwort: Eremogone aculeata (Synonyms: Arenaria aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. unitahensis, Arenaria fendleri var. aculeata, Arenaria pumicola var. californica) - Prickly Sandwort, Needleleaf Sandwort: Eremogone aculeata (Synonyms: Arenaria aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. unitahensis, Arenaria fendleri var. aculeata, Arenaria pumicola var. californica)

Additional close-ups of prickly sandwort. Photographed near Granny View in Hells Canyon NRA in northeastern Oregon........June 26, 2007.

Prickly Sandwort, Needleleaf Sandwort: Eremogone aculeata (Synonyms: Arenaria aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. unitahensis, Arenaria fendleri var. aculeata, Arenaria pumicola var. californica) - Maturing fruits of Prickly Sandwort, Needleleaf Sandwort: Eremogone aculeata (Synonyms: Arenaria aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. unitahensis, Arenaria fendleri var. aculeata, Arenaria pumicola var. californica)

Close-ups of the inflorescence of prickly sandwort. Photographed at the Steens Mountain summit in southeastern Oregon..........September 1, 2011.

Prickly Sandwort, Needleleaf Sandwort: Eremogone aculeata (Synonyms: Arenaria aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. unitahensis, Arenaria fendleri var. aculeata, Arenaria pumicola var. californica) - Prickly Sandwort, Needleleaf Sandwort: Eremogone aculeata (Synonyms: Arenaria aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. unitahensis, Arenaria fendleri var. aculeata, Arenaria pumicola var. californica)


Sharp basal leaves of Prickly Sandwort, Needleleaf Sandwort: Eremogone aculeata (Synonyms: Arenaria aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. unitahensis, Arenaria fendleri var. aculeata, Arenaria pumicola var. californica)

The photo above shows a close-up of the sharp-tipped basal leaves of prickly sandwort. Photographed along the North Steens Loop Road below Kiger Gorge in southeastern Oregon........June 24, 2000. Note the glaucous nature of the leaves.

Flower of Prickly Sandwort, Needleleaf Sandwort: Eremogone aculeata (Synonyms: Arenaria aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. aculeata, Arenaria aculeata var. unitahensis, Arenaria fendleri var. aculeata, Arenaria pumicola var. californica)

The photo above shows a close-up side view of a flower of prickly sandwort. Photographed at Saddle Creek Campground in Hells Canyon NRA in northeastern Oregon......July 8, 1999.

Paul Slichter