Species of the Month - April 2017

Greater Stitchwort

Stellaria holostea

Stellaria holostea

Greater Stitchwort is a woodland plant that flowers in April and May, taking advantage of the light that reaches the woodland floor before the canopy closes over, and providing food for spring insects, such as this hoverfly, Platycheirus albimanus, which pollinate the plant in return.

Stellaria holostea   Stellaria holostea

The five petals are each divided to about halfway, and are about twice as long as the green sepals.  This distinguishes it from the Lesser Stitchwort, whose petals are divided almost to the base and are not a lot longer than the sepals.  Lesser Stitchwort has much smaller flowers than Greater Stitchwort and appears later in the year.

Stellaria holostea    Stellaria holostea

The leaves are narrow and grass-like, held close to the stem until flowering when they spread out at a wide angle.  The stems are square and rather weak, often using the support of other vegetation to keep upright.

Stellaria holostea   Stellaria holostea

The flowers have 10 stamens in two rings of 5, which each stand upright in turn.  When these begin to fade, three styles appear in the centre of the flower.  Then as the petals wither the capsule expands to a gooseberry-green globe containing the seeds, which it releases when ripe.

Stellaria holostea

Greater Stitchwort often grows with Bluebells.  It begins to flower before the Bluebells come out, but continues flowering along with them.

Please send in your Greater Stitchwort sightings using the form below, or email sightings@lnhg.org.uk with the details if you prefer.  If you are not sure of the identity of your plant, please send a photo to sightings@lnhg.org.uk, or put one on the LNHG Facebook page.

Date of sighting 
Grid reference 
Name of finder 
Your name (if different) 
Email (not needed if I already know it!) 
Any other details, e.g quantity, habitat    


By filling in this form you agree that the information contained in this form may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically for environmental decision-making, education, research and other public benefit uses in accordance with the LNHG data access policy.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
LNHG Biological Records Manager


Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.  Here are the previous April species:

Apr 2016 - Field Woodrush
Apr 2015 - Marsh Violet
Apr 2014 - Hedgehog
Apr 2013 - Peacock Butterfly
Apr 2012 - Green Tiger Beetle
Apr 2011 - Townhall Clock

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This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage

All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.  Mouse over photos to see credits.