Wildflowers of the family that have indigenous American species include the pearlworts (genus Sagina), sandworts (Arenaria), campions and catchflies (species of several genera, especially Lychnis and the widespread Silene), sand spurries (Spergularia), and chickweeds (species of several genera, e.g., Stellaria and Cerastium). Chickweed, relished by birds, is sometimes used for greens and for poultices; catchflies (e.g., Silene virginica of the E United States, also called fire pink) are named for the fringed teeth or claws of their deeply lobed petals. The common chickweed (Stellaria media), the moss campion (Silene acaulis), and the common spurry (Spergula arvensis) are now nearly cosmopolitan weeds, having spread from parts of the Old World. Spurry, cultivated in Europe as a pasture, hay, and cover crop, is sometimes planted to hold sand in place.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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