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.
Petals 5, or rarely 4, entire or slightly notched. Stamens 5, 8, or 10, all attached to the disc. Styles usually 3. Capsule 3-valved. Leaves mostly linear or linear-lanceolate.
A considerable genus spread throughout the greater part of the globe, but especially in temperate regions. Most species are now placed in Minuartia Leofling.
Annual or biennial, glabrous or downy. Stems 2-10 inches high, erect, stiff. Leaves linear-awl-shaped. Flowers in thick, erect corymbs. Pedicels shorter than calyx. Sepals scarious lanceolate-acuminate, with 1 nerve. Petals half length of sepals. Stamens 10. Capsule oblong-conical, equalling or shorter than the calyx. Seeds tuberculous.
Rocks and arid, sandy places in the mountains and hills. June to August.
Jura, Alsace, Savoy, Dauphiny, Cevennes, Pyrenees, Southern Switzerland. Southern Europe, Morocco.
Stems upright and loosely caespitose in habit. Leaves usually in tufts, linear, subulate, stiff. Sepals almost entirely scarious, or, in other words, white with 2 green stripes on the back, lanceolate-acuminate, 1-nerved. Petals almost equalling the sepals. Flowers small, in little loose corymbs.
Dry, rocky, sunny places from 4000-7200 feet. May to August.
A very variable plant both in size and habit, and with at least two hairy or glandular named varieties.
Western Alps, Switzerland, West Tyrol, Cevennes, Corbieres, Pyrenees, Corsica, Spain, Italy, Algeria.
Stem erect or ascending, 3-10 inches high, simple or branched, finely downy like the flower-stalks and calyx, or viscid-glandular above. Leaves linear or subulate, semi-cylindrical, rough at the margin with fine notches, otherwise glabrous. Flowers large, white, like those of Cerastium arvense, in 1-3 flowered panicles; flower-stalks erect, spreading. Petals twice as long as calyx, wedge-shaped or obovate, obtuse. Calyx-teeth, lanceolate, obtuse, green, membranous at the margin, 3-nerved. Seeds covered with little dots or excrescences.
Debris and rocks of the granitic Alps, 5000-7500 feet, descending into the valleys along the courses of streams; often abundant. June to August.
Carpathians, Eastern, Central, and Western Alps. Alsine liniflora Heg.
Closely allied to the preceding and possibly only a limestone form of it. Rootstock woody as in laricifolia. Sepals with nerves slightly beyond the middle (the nerves are longer in laricifolia). Capsule longer than the calyx, instead of equalling it. Flowers similar to those of laricifolia.
Rocky places and pastures in the calcareous mountains up to 6800 feet. July, August.
It often forms great masses densely covered with milk-white bloom. These two species should be more cultivated in gardens, care being taken to give granite chips in one case and limestone in the other.