2. Spergula Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 440. 1753. Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 199. 1754.
Spurrey, spargoute [Latin spargo, scatter or sow, alluding to discharge of seeds]
Ronald L. Hartman, Richard K. Rabeler
Herbs, annual or winter annual. Taproots slender to ± stout, especially proximally. Stems spreading or ascending to erect, simple or branched, terete to somewhat angular. Leaves opposite but appearing whorled, as 8-15 per axillary cluster, 2 clusters per node, connate proximally by often-prominent ridge from which stipules arise, sessile; stipules 4 per node, white, ovate to triangular, margins entire but splitting variously with age, apex obtuse to acuminate; blade 1-veined, linear or filiform, sometimes succulent, apex blunt to apiculate. Inflorescences terminal, open to diffuse cymes; bracts paired, minute. Pedicels erect to ascending, spreading or usually reflexed and sometimes secund in fruit. Flowers usually bisexual, sometimes pistillate by stamen abortion; perianth and androecium briefly perigynous; hypanthium dish- or cup-shaped, not abruptly expanded distally; sepals distinct, silvery, elliptic to nearly ovate, 2.5-5 mm, herbaceous, margins scarious, apex acute to obtuse; petals 5, white, blade apex entire; nectaries at adaxial base of broader filaments opposite sepals; stamens 5 and opposite sepals, or 10 and arising from distally tapered rim of hypanthium; filaments distinct; styles 5, distinct, filiform, 0.4-0.6 mm, glabrous proximally; stigmas 5, linear along adaxial surface of styles, obscurely papillate (30×). Capsules ovoid, opening by 5 spreading to somewhat recurved valves; carpophore absent. Seeds 5-25, blackish, circular, subglobose or lenticular and laterally compressed, nearly smooth or finely papillate, membranous, entire marginal wing often present, appendage absent; embryo peripheral, annular to spirally curved. x = 9.
Species 5 (3 in the flora): introduced; Eurasia (esp. Mediterranean region, Europe).
Spergula arvensis is the only species of the genus that has been introduced extensively outside of Eurasia.