Plants of
South Australia
Stellaria pallida (∗)
Lesser Chickweed,
Lesser Starwort
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Distribution by Herbarium region
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier

Prior names

Alsine pallida

Common names

Lesser Chickweed

Lesser Starwort


Stellaria from the Latin 'stella' meaning a star and 'aria ' meaning connected with; an allusion to the radiating, deeply bifid petals. Pallida from the Latin 'pallidus' meaning pale; referring to the pale-green leaves.

Distribution and status

Native to Europe and recorded in the southern part of South Australia, growing in areas of disturbance such as roadsides, waterways and areas of cultivation, usually in shady or moist places. Also recorded in Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Introduced. Common in South Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium regions: Flinders Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Annual herb with very slender taproot to 20 cm high. Stems prostrate, much-branched, four-angled, hairy in a single line along each internode. Leaves opposite, stalked (lower), stalkless (upper), yellowish green, to 1.5 cm long and 7 mm wide, egg-shaped to elliptic with a rounded to wedge-shaped base and pointed tip, one-veined, sometimes with a few hairs along the margins and midrib. Inflorescence a loose terminal cluster with three to thirty-five flowers usually without petals, to 3 mm wide, often with a red band basally. Flowering between August and November. Fruits are brown ovoid capsule to 2 mm long. Seeds are dark brown to black reniform seed to 0.5 mm long and 0.4 mm wide, with a reticulated surface. Seed embryo type is peripheral.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between September and December. Collect capsules that are maturing, fat and turning brown and contain hard dark seeds. Place the capsules in a tray and leave to dry for two weeks. Then rub the capsules gently by hand or with a rubber bung to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to separate the unwanted material. Seeds should be hard and brown. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place.