This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Low annual or perennial herbs, our species scapose, with tufted small basal leaves, and terminal umbellate or solitary involucrate small white or pink flowers. Calyx persistent, 5-lobed, -cleft or -parted, the lobes erect in flower, sometimes spreading in fruit. Corolla salverform or funnelform, the tube short, not longer than the calyx, the limb 5-lobed, the lobes imbricated. Stamens 5, included, inserted on the tube of the corolla; filaments very short; anthers short, oblong, obtuse. Ovary superior, turbinate or globose; ovules few, or numerous, amphitropous; style short; stigma capitellate. Capsule turbinate, ovoid or globose, 5-valved from the apex, few-many-seeded. [Greek, man's shield, from the shape of the leaf in some species.]
About 60 species, natives of the northern hemisphere. Besides the following, about 15 others occur in western and northwestern North America. Type species: Androsace maxima L.
Annual, minutely pubescent, or glabrate; scapes filiform, solitary or numerous from fibrous roots, erect or ascending, or diffuse, 1'-3' long. Leaves oblong or spatulate, obtuse, entire, sessile, 3"-8" long; bracts of the involucre similar to the leaves but much smaller, 1"-3" long; pedicels several or numerous,filiform,2"-6" long in flower, often becoming 1' long in fruit; calyx-tube obpyramidal in fruit, the lobes ovate or triangular-lanceolate, acute, as long as or longer than the tube, green, becoming foliaceous; corolla very small, white, shorter than the calyx; calyx longer than the several-seeded capsule.
In dry soil, Minnesota and Illinois to Kansas and Arkansas, west to Manitoba, Utah and New Mexico. April-June.
Androsace diffusa Small, differing by narrower, lanceolate involucral bracts, enters our extreme northwestern limits in North Dakota.