This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
A robust but dwarf pubescent-glandular species. Stems 4-6 inches high, 1-3 flowered, leafy. Leaves lanceolate acute; stem-leaves sessile; root-leaves narrowed into a petiole. Calyx tubular, glandular, with lanceolate teeth. Petals bifid, pinkish white above, crimson underneath. Capsule pubescent and equalling the glabrous carpophore in length.
Stony places on siliceous rocks; very local. July, August.
In Switzerland only on some of the Southern Alps in Valais, on the Italian frontier; Alps of Savoy and Dauphine (as at La Grave), Italy, Dalmatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, etc.
This little known plant is worth introducing into gardens and may be treated much as 5. rupestris is.
Small herbs, usually hairy or downy and often viscid, branching at the base, with white flowers in terminal forked cymes, or rarely solitary; the upper bracts often, like the sepals, scarious at the edges. Sepals 5, rarely 4. Petals 5, rarely 4, usually 2-cleft, sometimes minute or wanting. Stamens 10 or occasionally 5 or fewer. Styles 5, rarely 4 or 3. Capsule opening at the top in twice as many short teeth as there are styles.
A rather large genus, spread over the globe, but most numerous in the temperate regions, especially of the northern hemisphere.
Stem perennial and much branched at the base, and frequently prostrate and creeping, ascending to about 6 inches high. Leaves crowded in lower parts, narrow, linear-lanceolate, glabrescent. Flowers large and white, in loose cymes on rather long pedicels. Petals twice the length of the sepals, cleft to the middle. Capsule oblique, usually longer than the calyx. A variable plant.
Dry, hilly fields, pastures, and banks, extending from the lowlands of England to 8700 feet in the Alps, and often mistaken there for C. alpinum. May to July.
Europe, Russian Asia, N. America, Andes of S. America, Morocco.
There are several Alpine varieties, the commonest of which is strictum Haenke (alpicolum Fenzl.), which is smaller, very thick-set, and with narrower leaves and smaller flowers. We have gathered it at 9000 feet on the Aiguille du Goleon in Dauphine and on the Col de la Leisse in Savoy at the same elevation.
A useful and well-known rock-plant, covered with greenish grey tomentum. Leaves linear, fleshy, often with curled hairs at the base. Flowers large, handsome, sometimes covering the whole plant with white. Teeth of capsule revolute.
Rocky pastures in Upper Styria and elsewhere in the Eastern Alps; rare. July, August.
Grows easily and freely from cuttings or by division, but is somewhat too rampant to associate with the smallest and choicest Alpines.
The majority of the Cerastia are either lowland plants or distinctly high Alpine; though occasionally in the sub-Alps we find C. pumilum and semidecandrum from the plains, and C. trigynum and C. alpinum descending from the higher mountains.