Sagina decumbens subsp. occidentalis (S. Wats.) Crow
Family: Caryophyllaceae
western pearlwort
[Sagina occidentalis S. Wats.]
Sagina decumbens subsp. occidentalis image
Leaves: basal rosette absent. Sepals ovate to orbiculate, body and hyaline margins frequently purple. Seeds light brown, seldom ridged, and then never forming reticulate pattern, smooth to slightly pebbled. Flowering spring-early summer. Dryish hillsides, margins of vernal pools, streams, open spots in redwood and pine woods, roadsides, dwellings; 0-900 m; B.C.; Calif., Oreg., Wash.; Mexico (Baja California). Except by geography, subsp. occidentalis is very difficult to distinguish from subsp. decumbens. In plants of subsp. occidentalis the sepals tend to be more orbiculate and the capsules, prior to dehiscence, tend to be more globose. Extremely variable, subsp. decumbens generally can be recognized on the basis of presence of tuberculate seeds (60% frequency) and 80% have a combination of tuberculate seeds and glandular-pubescent pedicels and calyx bases. But when seeds are smooth, seeing the reticulate ridge pattern requires high magnification, and while SEM readily clarifies the differences, its use is hardly practical. Subspecies decumbens has a greater tendency to possess purple sepal tips or sepal margins, and purplish coloration frequently at the nodes.

FNA 2005, Kearney and Peebles 1969, Jepson 1993
Duration: Annual Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Small herb, glabrous or glandular-pubescent, erect or sprawling, branched or simple stems, often tinged purple. Leaves: Proximal leaves connate basally, arising from an early deciduous, often purple-tinged basal rosettes, cauline leaves awl-shaped and tapering to a point, 1-5 mm long. Flowers: White and axillary or terminal, petals exceeding the purple-tinged ovate sepals until the capsule begins to develop. Stamens 5-10, white with white anthers, protruding above the superior ovary. Flowers borne on delicate pedicels. Fruits: Small capsules, 2-3 mm, seeds obliquely triangular, light tan to brown. Ecology: Found in dry stream beds, chaparral, grassy areas and rock outcrops from sea level to 5,000 ft (1524 m), flowers March-May. Notes: These pretty, small (often tiny) herbs are quite delicate and seem overwhelmed by the flowers when blooming, as the pedicels are so delicate and look like the small, round buds and resultant capsules should be too much for the pedicels to support. The leaves are often narrowly linear with acuminate tips, reminiscent of a budding grass, and much of the plant often has a purplish-red tinge. Flowers generally singular and terminal. Look for this species under Sagina occidentalis. Ethnobotany: Unknown Synonyms: Sagina occidentalis Editor: LCrumbacher, 2011 Etymology: Sagnia comes from the Latin sagina, "stuffing, fattening," from the "fattening" qualities of forage on which sheep quickly thrive, while decumbens means prostrate, and occidentalis means of the west.