Wildflowers of the family that have indigenous American species include the pearlworts (genus Sagina ), sandworts ( Arenaria ), campions and catchflies (species of several genera, especially Lychnis and the widespread Silene ), sand spurries ( Spergularia ), and chickweeds (species of several genera, e.g., Stellaria and Cerastium ). Chickweed, relished by birds, is sometimes used for greens and for poultices; catchflies (e.g., Silene virginica of the E United States, also called fire pink) are named for the fringed teeth or claws of their deeply lobed petals. The common chickweed ( Stellaria media ), the moss campion ( Silene acaulis ), and the common spurry ( Spergula arvensis ) are now nearly cosmopolitan weeds, having spread from parts of the Old World. Spurry, cultivated in Europe as a pasture, hay, and cover crop, is sometimes planted to hold sand in place.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.