Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Spergularia rubra - Red Sand-Spurrey

Family: Caryophyllaceae (Pink family)

"Spergularia rubra is a ANNUAL/BIENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft). It is in flower from May to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Flies, self.The plant is self-fertile." [PFAF]

"Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure." [PFAF]

"General: Annual or short-lived perennial herb from a slender taproot; stems prostrate, several, branched, glandular-hairy, 5-30 cm long." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Habitat/Range: Dry to mesic disturbed areas and waste places in the lowland, steppe and lower montane zones; common in S BC, rare northwards; introduced from Europe." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Status: Exotic [E-flora]



"“Hazards and/or side effects not known for proper therapeutic dosages” (PH2) (but PH2 designates no specific quantified dosage! JAD)." [HMH Duke]

Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses
"The leaves are diuretic and lithontripic[4, 254]. The plant contains a resinous aromatic substance that is probably the active principle[4]. An infusion is thought to relax the muscle walls of the urinary tubules and so it is used in the treatment of kidney stones, acute and chronic cystitis and catarrh of the bladder[4, 61]." [PFAF]

"The herb has diuretic effects.... used for conditions of the urinary tract, such as cystitis, dysuria and urinary calculus.... The herb is used internally as a liquid extract."[PDR]

"It has long been used as a popular remedy in diseases of the bladder. It was shown... to contain a resinous aromatic substance which is probably its active principle. It is strongly recommended by Bertherand in calculous diseases and acute and chronic cystitis. The aqueous extract may be given in doses of thirty grains (2.0 Gm.); or the fluidextract, dose, a fluidrachm (3.75 mils), three or four times a day." [Remington USD20]

"Indications (Sand Spurrey) — Bladder Stone (f; HHB); Calculus (f; PH2); Colic (f; WOI); Cystosis (f; PH2; WOI); Dysuria (f; PH2); Gravel (f; FEL); Stone (f; FEL; HHB); Urethrosis (f; WOI); Water Retention (1; PH2)" [HMH Duke]

"Dosages (Sand Spurrey) — 5 drachms/pint water (FEL)" [HMH Duke]


"Diuretic (1; PH2); Litholytic (f; FEL)." [HMH Duke]


Triterpene saponins, Resins [PDR]

"This plant is often found growing in paving crevices and other impoverished niches in the garden[200]. It is a calcifuge plant, requiring neutral to acid soils[17]." [PFAF]

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


"Annual, perennial herb, erect to sprawling; taprooted. Leaf: thread-like to linear, vein 1; stipules 1–11 mm, lanceolate to widely triangular, scarious, ± entire or splitting ± at tip, white to tan. Inflorescence: terminal, open to dense; flowers few to many; pedicels 0.5–28+ mm. Flower: sepals 5, united in basal 1/5, 1.5–10 mm, lanceolate to ovate, glabrous to glandular-hairy; petals 5, 0.6–9 mm, entire; stamens 2–10; styles 3, 0.3–1.9 mm. Fruit: capsule, ovoid; valves 3, spreading, tip recurved. Seed: few to many, dark brown, red-brown, or black, often winged. 60 species: western North America, western South America, Mediterranean. (Latin: derivative of Spergula) [Hartman & Rabeler 2005 FNANM 5:16–23]" [Jepson]

Local Species;

  1. Spergularia canadensis - Canadian sand-spurry [E-flora]
  2. Spergularia macrotheca - Beach sand-spurry [E-flora]
  3. Spergularia rubra - Red sand-spurry [E-flora]
  4. Spergularia rupicola - Cliff sand-spurrey [E-flora]
  5. Spergularia salina - Salt marsh sand-spurry [E-flora]

1. Stamens 2-5; sepals glabrous to moderately glandular-hairy.
2. Leaves blunt; seeds usually wing-margined, 0.8-1.1 mm long...........S. canadensis
2. Leaves abruptly slender-pointed; seeds wingless, 0.6-0.9 mm long............... S. salina
1. Stamens 6-10; sepals densely glandular-hairy.
3. Seeds dark reddish-brown, nearly smooth, usually surrounded with a thin, white or brownish wing; sepals 5-9 mm long; plants native perennials............. S. macrotheca
3. Seeds light or dark brown or greyish-brown, finely reticulate and pimply, wingless; sepals 3.5-5 mm long, or less; plants introduced annuals or short-lived perennials.................... S. rubra


Spergularia canadensis - Canadian sand-spurry

"Habitat/Range: Wet to moist coastal mud flats and sandy coastal beaches in the lowland zone; common in coastal BC; var. canadensis ranges N to AK and along the Atlantic Coast, var. occidentalis ranges S to N CA." [IFBC-E-flora]

Status: Native [E-flora]

Two sometimes poorly defined varieties occur in BC.

1. Plants prostrate or decumbent; plants occurring N of Vancouver Island ..................var. canadensis

1. Plants erect or strongly ascending; plants of Vancouver Island and southward..................... var. occidentalis Rossbach

Spergularia macrotheca - Beach sand-spurry

"Habitat/Range: Wet to moist salt marshes and sandy coastal beaches in the lowland zone; rare in SW BC, known only on SE Vancouver Island and adjacent Gulf Islands; S to CA and MX." [IFBC-E-flora]

Status: Native [E-flora]

Spergularia rupicola - Cliff sand-spurrey

Status: Exotic [E-flora]

Spergularia salina - Salt marsh sand-spurry

"Habitat/Range: Wet to moist coastal mudflats or inland alkaline or saline ponds in the lowland and montane zones; common in SW BC, rare in SE and N BC; introduced from Eurasia." [IFBC-E-flora]

Status: Native [E-flora]


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