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..
Mostly annual, generally diffuse herbs, with cymose white flowers. Sepals 5, rarely 4. Petals of the same number, usually deeply 2-cleft, or 2-parted, white in our species, rarely none. Stamens 10 or fewer, hypogynous. Ovary I-celled, several or many-ovuled; styles commonly 3, rarely 4-5, usually opposite the sepals. Capsule globose, ovoid or oblong, dehiscent by twice as many valves as there are styles. Seeds smooth or roughened, globose or compressed. [Greek, grove, the habitat of some species.]
Species about 75, widely distributed, most abundant in temperate or cold climates. Linnaeus divided the ancient genus Alsine into Alsine and Stellaria, united again by subsequent authors. Type species: Alsine media L.
Styles 5; leaves ovate, 1'-2' long.
Styles 3, rarely 4.
Leaves broad, ovate, ovate-oblong or oblong-lanceolate.
Plants glabrous, or with a few scattered hairs.
Flowers few, terminal; leaves ovate. 2"-?," long.
Cymes lateral; leaves oblong, 5"-12" long.
Stems with 1 or 2 pubescent lines; petioles often ciliate.
Petals shorter than the calyx; lower leaves petioled.
Petals longer than the calyx, or as long; lower leaves rarely petioled.
Petals longer than the blunt sepals.
Petals as long as the acute or acuminate sepals.
Leaves narrow, linear, oblong, oblanceolate or spatulate.
Flowers 7"-10" broad.
Leaves lanceolate, ciliate.
Leaves linear, glabrous.
Flowers only 2"-6" broad.
Bracts of the cyme small, scarious.
Pedicels widely spreading; cyme diffuse.
Leaves linear, acute at each end; seeds smooth.
Leaves lanceolate, broadest below; seeds rough.
Pedicels erect; flowers few or solitary.
Bracts of the cyme foliaceous, resembling the upper leaves.
Capsule 1 1/2-2 times as long as the calyx; leaves lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate.
Seeds rough; petals equalling or longer than the calyx.
Seeds smooth; petals much shorter than the calyx or none.
Capsule not longer than the calyx; leaves linear or linear-spatulate; petals none.