Plants annual, from threadlike taproots. Stems erect, sparingly branched below inflorescence, 4-sided, 3-25 cm, glabrous or sparsely hairy. Leaves sessile, crowded at base, shiny; blade oblanceolate to obovate and spatulate (proximal) or linear-lanceolate (distal), 0.5-1.5 cm × 0.5-2 mm, base round, apex acuminate, glabrous, often ciliate on margins. Inflorescences terminal, 3-21-flowered (rarely more) cymes; bracts linear-lanceolate, 1-12 mm, scarious distally, herbaceous proximally, often ciliate on margins. Pedicels ascending to erect, ± straight in fruit, 2-25 mm, glabrous. Flowers 2-3 mm diam.; sepals 5, with 3 prominent, ridged veins, very narrowly lanceolate, to acicular, 2.8-4.2 mm, margins wide, scarious, apex acuminate, glabrous; petals 5 or absent, 1-3 mm, shorter than sepals, blade apex 2-lobed; stamens 3-5; styles 3, spreading, becoming curled, ca. 0.3 mm. Capsules green or straw colored, narrowly ovoid, 2-3 mm, shorter than sepals, apex obtuse, opening by 3 valves, splitting into 6; carpophore absent. Seeds brown, round, 0.5-0.7 mm diam., minutely tuberculate. 2n = 20, 40.
Flowering spring. Dry, open habitats: sand dunes, stream banks, rocky outcrops, open woodlands, beneath boulders, disturbed areas; 0-2000 m; B.C.; Ariz., Calif., Idaho, Mont., Nev., Oreg., Utah, Wash.
FNA 2005, Wiggins 1964, Kearney and Peebles 1969
Duration: Annual Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Annual with filiform, glabrous or sparsely hairy, erect and forking stems 3-25 cm tall, from threadlike taproots. Leaves: Sessile, crowded at base, shiny, blades oblanceolate to obovate at bottom and spatulate or linear-lanceolate toward top, 0.5-1.5 cm by 0.5-2 mm, round base, acuminate apex, glabrous, often ciliate on margins. Flowers: Terminal cymes 3-21 flowered, bracts linear-lanceolate, 1-12 mm, scarious near top, herbaceous further down, often ciliate on margins; pedicels ascending to erect, straight in fruit, 2-25 mm, glabrous; flowers 2-3 mm in diameter, 5 sepals with 3 prominent, ridged veins, narrowly lanceolate 2.8-4.2 mm, margins wide, scarious, acuminate apex, glabrous; petals 5 or absent, 1-3 mm, shorter than sepals, blade apex 2-lobed; 3-5 stamens; 3 styles, becoming curled. Fruits: Narrowly ovoid capsules, green or straw colored, 2-3 mm, shorter than sepals, obtuse apex. Ecology: Found in dry, open areas, sand dunes, stream banks, rocky slopes and outcrops, beneath boulders, and in disturbed areas from 1,500-4,000 ft (457-1219 m); flowers February-April. Notes: This species can be distinguished by being glabrous or sparsely pubescent below, but not in lines; the shiny leaves also help to separate this plant. Ethnobotany: Unknown Etymology: Stellaria is from the Latin stella for star for the flower shape, while nitens means shining. Synonyms: Stellaria praecox Editor: SBuckley, 2010