Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Spergula arvensis - Corn Spurry

"Spergula arvensis is a ANNUAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in). The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Flies, self.The plant is self-fertile. Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil." [PFAF]




"The seed, and probably also the leaves, contain saponins[105]. Although toxic, these substances are very poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass through without causing harm. They are also broken down by thorough cooking. Saponins are found in many plants, including several that are often used for food, such as certain beans. It is advisable not to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K]." [PFAF]

Edible Uses

Other Use

Medicinal Uses


"Prefers a sandy lime-free soil[200] and a sunny position. A calcifuge plant, requiring a neutral to acid soil[17]. The flowers are only open in the morning." [PFAF] "...too much of it will make the soil fit for nothing else, and so beggar the farmer, or that the presence of the plant is a sure indication that the soil is no good anyway, and will still beggar one." [DPL Watts]

"Seed - sow spring or autumn in situ. Some seed germinates in the autumn in the wild while some germinates in the spring." [PFAF]


Family: Pink - Caryophyllaceae

"Annual, ascending to erect, taprooted. Leaf: opposite but appearing whorled due to axillary clusters of 16–30 per node; stipules 1–2 mm, ovate to triangular, entire, scarious, white; vein 1. Inflorescence: terminal; flowers several to many; pedicels 40+ mm. Flower: sepals 5, ± free, 2.5–5 mm, elliptic to ± ovate, glandular-hairy; petals 5, 2.5–4 mm, entire; stamens 5 or 10; styles 5, 0.3–0.6 mm. Fruit: capsule, ovoid; valves 5, spreading to ± recurved. Seed: several, ± black.
5 species: temperate Eurasia. (Latin: to scatter, from sowing seeds for early forage in Eur) [Hartman & Rabeler 2005 FNANM 5:14–16]" [Jepson2012]

Local Species;

  1. Spergula arvensis - corn-spurry [PCBC][E-flora]


Page last modified on Tuesday, March 8, 2022 5:45 AM