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Slender Sandwort

Arenaria leptoclados

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life Cycle:
Annual or Perennial
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Beaches, grassland, roadsides, rocky places, sand dunes, seaside, walls, wasteland.

White, 5 petals
White, oval petals, not notched. May be confused with Chickweed but the petals are not notched. Pollinated by insects.
The fruit is light brown and pear-shaped, just like that of the almost identical looking Thyme-leaved Sandwort. Slender Sandwort fruits are more slender and turned up at their tips.
An annual flower, similar in appearance to the less frequently seen Thyme-leaved Sandwort (Arenaria serpyllifolia) but Slender Sandwort as its name implies is more slender. It is best distinguished by the shape of its fruit.
Other Names:
Lesser Thyme-leaved Sandwort, Small Thyme-leaved Sandwort.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Slender sandwort (Arenaria leptoclados) is a species of flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae. It is a low-growing herb that typically grows in sandy or rocky habitats, such as coastal dunes and rocky outcrops. It is native to North America and Europe, and can be found along the coastlines of these regions. The species has small white flowers and leaves that are linear and opposite. It prefers full sun, moist well-drained sandy soils, and is often used as a ground cover, in rock gardens and as a filler in wildflower mixtures. It is considered a protected species in some areas, and should not be collected from the wild without permission.


Slender sandwort (Arenaria leptoclados) is a small, delicate plant that is native to the sand dunes of the Great Lakes region and other parts of North America. This low-growing plant is typically found in sandy, gravelly soil, and can be identified by its thin, wiry stems and small, white flowers.

One of the most striking features of slender sandwort is its adaptability to harsh, sandy environments. This plant has developed several unique adaptations that allow it to thrive in conditions that would be inhospitable to most other plants. For example, slender sandwort has a deep root system that allows it to access water and nutrients that are buried deep beneath the sand. Additionally, the plant's thin stems and small leaves help to reduce water loss through transpiration, which is an important adaptation for a plant growing in such dry conditions.

Despite its small size and unassuming appearance, slender sandwort plays an important ecological role in the sand dune ecosystem. The plant's deep roots help to stabilize the sand, preventing erosion and creating a stable substrate for other plants to grow on. In addition, the plant provides food and habitat for a variety of insects and small animals.

Slender sandwort is also of interest to researchers and conservationists due to its status as an indicator species. This means that the presence or absence of the plant can provide valuable information about the health of the surrounding ecosystem. Because slender sandwort is adapted to thrive in a specific set of environmental conditions, changes in its population or distribution can indicate broader changes in the ecosystem as a whole. By monitoring populations of slender sandwort and other indicator species, scientists and conservationists can gain insights into the health and resilience of fragile ecosystems like sand dunes.

Overall, slender sandwort is a fascinating and important plant that plays a crucial role in the sand dune ecosystem. Its ability to adapt to harsh conditions and provide valuable ecological information make it a valuable and unique species that deserves our attention and protection.

Slender sandwort is a member of the Caryophyllaceae family, which includes other notable plants such as carnations and campions. It typically grows to be around 5-15 centimeters in height and has thin, wiry stems that form a mat on the sand. The leaves of slender sandwort are small and needle-like, and the plant produces small white flowers with five petals that bloom in the summer months.

This plant is most commonly found in the sand dunes along the Great Lakes, particularly Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, but it can also be found in other sandy habitats throughout North America. It is particularly well adapted to the unique environmental conditions found in sand dunes, such as intense sunlight, high temperatures, and low soil moisture.

Because of its preference for sandy habitats, slender sandwort is vulnerable to habitat loss and degradation. Sand dune ecosystems are particularly threatened by human activities such as development and recreation, and as a result, many populations of slender sandwort and other sand dune species are in decline.

Conservation efforts for slender sandwort and other sand dune species typically focus on habitat protection and restoration. In some cases, efforts may also involve reintroducing the plant to areas where it has been extirpated or creating artificial dunes to provide new habitat. Monitoring of slender sandwort populations and other indicator species can also help inform management decisions to promote the health and resilience of sand dune ecosystems.

Slender sandwort is a small but ecologically important plant that is uniquely adapted to sandy habitats. Its ability to provide valuable information about ecosystem health and its vulnerability to habitat loss make it an important focus of conservation efforts. By protecting and restoring sand dune habitats, we can help ensure the survival of this fascinating and important species.

In addition to its ecological importance, slender sandwort also has some cultural and historical significance. The plant has been used in traditional medicine by Native American communities, who have historically used it to treat a variety of ailments such as skin conditions and digestive problems. The plant's root system has also been used to make a tea that is said to have a calming effect.

Slender sandwort has also been the subject of scientific research aimed at understanding its unique adaptations and potential applications in agriculture and other fields. For example, the plant's deep root system and ability to tolerate low-nutrient environments may make it useful for soil stabilization and erosion control in agricultural settings.

In terms of its visual appeal, slender sandwort is a delicate and understated plant that can add a subtle charm to any garden or landscape. Its small size and adaptability to sandy soils make it a good choice for rock gardens, container gardens, or other areas where space is limited. It can also be used as a ground cover or accent plant in larger garden beds.

In summary, slender sandwort is a fascinating plant with ecological, cultural, and scientific significance. Its unique adaptations, vulnerability to habitat loss, and potential applications make it an important species to study and conserve. Whether in its natural habitat or in a garden setting, slender sandwort is a plant that is worthy of appreciation and protection.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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