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

Brittle Sandwort, Brittle Stitchwort, Nuttall's Sandwort, Recurved Sandwort

Minuartia nuttallii var. fragilis

Synonyms: Arenaria nuttallii ssp. fragilis, Arenaria nuttallii var. fragilis, Minuartia nuttallii ssp. fragilis

Close-up of a flower of Brittle Sandwort, Nuttall's Sandwort, Recurved Sandwort: Minuartia nuttallii var. fragilis (Synonyms: Arenaria nuttallii ssp. fragilis, Arenaria nuttallii var. fragilis, Minuartia nuttallii ssp. fragilis)

Close-up of a flower of recurved sandwort as seen in gravelly soils atop Baldy Mt, Strawberry Mt. Wilderness.......July 2, 2010.

Flower of Synonyms: Arenaria nuttallii ssp. fragilis, Arenaria nuttallii var. fragilis, Minuartia nuttallii ssp. fragilisThe photo at right shows Nuttall's sandwort (variety fragilis) at the Steens Mt. summit in southeastern Oregon........July 16, 2000. Note the sepals and petals which are of approximately equal length.
Characteristics:

Nuttall's sandwort is densely tufted perennial that is woody below that forms low mats up to 30 cm wide. The stems are trailing with the flowering branches turned upwards and up to 3-10 cm high. The leafy flowering stems are very brittle, shattering readily at the nodes. The leaves are linear-awl-shaped with 3 nerves and sharp pointed. They spread from the stems and are from 6-12 mm long. The herbage varies from glandular-haired to glandular-pilose.

The inflorescence consists of compact cymes of 2-7 (occasionally more) flowers with pedicels from 3-10 cm long. The stiff sepals are broadly lanceolate, acuminate, and sharply tipped. They measure 4-5 mm long. The oblong, white petals are shorter to slightly longer than the sepals. Each of the petals ends with an acute tip (Notice photos on this page.). 3 styles arise from the ovoid, green pistil. 10 stamens are present.


Varieties of Nuttall's Sandwort:

variety fragilis: The leaves are arched like a bow or recurved or spreading above the base. The leaves are yellowish-green. The plants are thickly glandular-haired, the hairs shorter and straighter than in the variety below. Variety fragilis may be found from the higher peaks of Grant and Malheur counties in southeastern Oregon south to western Nevada and Mono County in California.

variety nuttallii: The leaves are straight and upright or ascending. The leaves are not very yellowish. Plants are glandular-haired or bear long, soft, straight hairs that are longer than the variety above. Variety nuttallii may be found through the Cascade Mts. from British Columbia to Oregon and in the Rocky Mts. from Alberta to Utah.


Habitat:

Nuttall's sandwort may be found in open, gravelly to talus soils from the foothills to well into alpine habitats in the mountains.


Range:

As a species, Nuttall's sandwort may be found from southern British Columbia south through the Cascade Mts to the coast range of northern California and further south through the Sierra Nevada to southern California. It may be found eastward to the Rocky Mts. of Alberta, Montana, Wyoming and Utah. Variety fragilis may be found from the higher peaks of Grant and Malheur counties in southeastern Oregon south to western Nevada and Mono County in California.


Brittle Sandwort, Nuttall's Sandwort, Recurved Sandwort: Minuartia nuttallii var. fragilis (Synonyms: Arenaria nuttallii ssp. fragilis, Arenaria nuttallii var. fragilis, Minuartia nuttallii ssp. fragilis) - Brittle Sandwort, Nuttall's Sandwort, Recurved Sandwort: Minuartia nuttallii var. fragilis (Synonyms: Arenaria nuttallii ssp. fragilis, Arenaria nuttallii var. fragilis, Minuartia nuttallii ssp. fragilis)

Additional photos of recurved sandwort as seen in gravelly soils atop Baldy Mt, Strawberry Mt. Wilderness.........July 2, 2010. Note the numerous gland-tipped hairs on the leaves, stems, and pedicels as well as the spreading stem leaves which are recurved at the tip.

Brittle Sandwort, Nuttall's Sandwort, Recurved Sandwort: Minuartia nuttallii var. fragilis (Synonyms: Arenaria nuttallii ssp. fragilis, Arenaria nuttallii var. fragilis, Minuartia nuttallii ssp. fragilis) - Brittle Sandwort, Nuttall's Sandwort, Recurved Sandwort: Minuartia nuttallii var. fragilis (Synonyms: Arenaria nuttallii ssp. fragilis, Arenaria nuttallii var. fragilis, Minuartia nuttallii ssp. fragilis)

Brittle sandwort blooming on serpentine slopes along the Canyon Mountain Trail #218 in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness.......May 29, 2014.

Brittle Sandwort, Nuttall's Sandwort, Recurved Sandwort: Minuartia nuttallii var. fragilis (Synonyms: Arenaria nuttallii ssp. fragilis, Arenaria nuttallii var. fragilis, Minuartia nuttallii ssp. fragilis)

Brittle sandwort blooming on serpentine slopes along the Canyon Mountain Trail #218 in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness........June 21, 2011.

Brittle Sandwort, Nuttall's Sandwort, Recurved Sandwort: Minuartia nuttallii var. fragilis (Synonyms: Arenaria nuttallii ssp. fragilis, Arenaria nuttallii var. fragilis, Minuartia nuttallii ssp. fragilis) - Brittle Sandwort, Nuttall's Sandwort, Recurved Sandwort: Minuartia nuttallii var. fragilis (Synonyms: Arenaria nuttallii ssp. fragilis, Arenaria nuttallii var. fragilis, Minuartia nuttallii ssp. fragilis)

Brittle sandwort blooming at the East Rim Viewpoint, Steens Mountain..........July 11, 2014.

Brittle Sandwort, Nuttall's Sandwort, Recurved Sandwort: Minuartia nuttallii var. fragilis (Synonyms: Arenaria nuttallii ssp. fragilis, Arenaria nuttallii var. fragilis, Minuartia nuttallii ssp. fragilis)

Nuttall's sandwort (with Erigeron compositus var. glabratus and Sedum lanceolatum) as seen at the head of Kiger Gorge, Steens Mountain..........July 11, 2014.

Spreading, recurved stem leaves of Synonyms: Arenaria nuttallii ssp. fragilis, Arenaria nuttallii var. fragilis, Minuartia nuttallii ssp. fragilis - Synonyms: Arenaria nuttallii ssp. fragilis, Arenaria nuttallii var. fragilis, Minuartia nuttallii ssp. fragilis - Flower of Synonyms: Arenaria nuttallii ssp. fragilis, Arenaria nuttallii var. fragilis, Minuartia nuttallii ssp. fragilis

These photo show the erect flower stem with spreading, recurved stem leaves, the matted form of Nuttall's sandwort (var. fragilis), and a close-up sideview of a flower as seen at the summit of the Steens Mt at an elevation of nearly 9700 feet.......July 16, 2000. Note the gland-tipped hairs which spread from the stem and leaves.

Paul Slichter