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..
Tufted herbs, our species perennials, often woody at the base, with opposite leaves, scarious stipules, and small clustered scarious-bracted apetalous flowers. Calyx 5-parted, the segments awn-tipped. Stamens 5, inserted at the base of the calyx, sometimes alternate with as many staminodia. Ovary ovoid or subglobose, narrowed upward into the style; styles united nearly to the stigmas; ovule solitary, amphitropous. Utricle membranous, included in the calyx, I-seeded. [Greek, for a disease of the fingers and a plant supposed to cure it.]
About 50 species, natives of warm and temperate regions. Besides the following about 7 others occur in the southern and western United States. Type species: Illecebrum Paronychia L.
Flowers hidden among the bracts and stipules.
Flowers not hidden among the bracts and stipules.
Stems erect; inflorescence open.
Calyx i"-i 1/4" long, the sepals oblong to oblong-lanceolate.
Branches of the inflorescence ascending.
Branches of the inflorescence spreading.
Calyx 2" long, the sepals lanceolate.
Stems prostrate or diffuse; inflorescence contracted.
Stem erect or ascending, much branched, 3'-8' high, clothed with silvery appressed scale-like hairs. Leaves linear, 1 -nerved, acute or mucronate at the apex, pubescent or nearly glabrous; stipules silvery-white, scarious, entire, usually shorter than the leaves; flowers in forking cymes, subtended and concealed by the large silvery membranous bracts; calyx-segments 2"-2 1/2" long, their awns erect, nearly as long as the segments, pubescent or glabrous; staminodia minute and much shorter than the filaments or wanting.
In rocky places, mostly on mountains, Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and from Virginia to Tennessee and Georgia, the northern plant less pubescent than the southern, and more floriferous. Ascends to 4200 ft. in North Carolina. Called also silver chickweed and silverhead. July-Sept.