Spring Sandwort

Spring Sandwort flowers from May to September – try Caerthillian or Kynance for good places to find it.
Photo: Steve Townsend

Scientific name: Minuartia verna

Other names: Vernal Stitchwort, Vernal Sandwort

Conservation status: Cornwall Red Data Book species

Spring Sandwort, Kynance, CornwallA member of the Campion family (Caryophyllaceae), this small delicate cushion-forming plant flowers from May through to September. Its pretty white flowers have five petals, but are not notched like some other members of the family.

It has a special affinity for basic (alkaline) rocks, which is why it is restricted on the Lizard to the serpentine of the west coast. Elsewhere in the country, this rare species can be found on limestone, another basic rock.

Here on the Lizard it is approaching the southern edge of its latitudinal range, which stretches as far as the Arctic Circle. Look for it growing on rocks or bare soil patches on the clifftops.

Did you know…?

…Spring Sandwort can tolerate soils contaminated with heavy metals such as lead and copper, and is therefore sometimes found on old mine workings
…Mediterranean meets Arctic! On The Lizard, Spring Sandwort can often be found growing near to Land Quillwort, the latter of which is at the northernmost limit of its range.

More information and references:

Bates, R. and Scolding, B., 2002. Wild Flowers of the Lizard. Cornwall County Council, Cornwall.

Neumann, D., zur Nieden, U., Schwieger, W., Leopold, I. and Lichtenberger, O., 1997. Heavy metal tolerance of Minuartia verna. Journal of Plant Physiology 151: 101–108.

Rose, F. and O’Reilly, C., 2006. The Wild Flower Key, 2nd edition. Frederick Warne, London.

Published: May 2013 (updated May 2018)
Author: Amanda Scott
Photos: Steve Townsend