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Knotted Pearlwort

Sagina nodosa

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
15 centimetres tall
Beaches, cliffs, grassland, heathland, lawns, meadows, mountains, riverbanks, riversides, rocky places, sand dunes, seaside, wasteland, waterside, woodland.

White, 5 petals
5 unnotched white petals reaching up to 1cm across. Our largest flowered Pearlwort in the UK.
Dull yellow, egg-shaped capsule. 4 or 5 valves, usually 5.
Basal rosette and stem leaves are both present. The stalkless stem leaves are positioned in opposite pairs and get smaller towards the top. The linear leaves are untoothed and thread-like, smooth and occasionally fleshy.
Other Names:
Knotted Spurrey, Lawn Pearlwort.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Sagina nodosa, also known as knotted pearlwort, is a small perennial herb in the family Caryophyllaceae. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and typically grows in damp, shady areas such as woodlands, meadows, and along streams and rivers. The plant has small, green leaves and tiny white flowers that bloom in the summer. The root of the plant is not edible and it is not considered to be toxic. It is mainly used as a ground cover or in rock gardens. It is known for its ability to survive in poor soils and can be useful for stabilizing soil in erosion-prone areas. It is also sometimes used in traditional medicine to treat certain ailments.


Knotted Pearlwort, or Sagina nodosa, is a small flowering plant that belongs to the Caryophyllaceae family. It is commonly found in grassy areas, lawns, and open woods in the Northern Hemisphere, including Europe, Asia, and North America. In this blog, we will discuss the physical characteristics, habitat, and uses of this fascinating plant.

Physical Characteristics

Knotted Pearlwort is a low-growing, perennial herb that grows to a height of about 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm). The leaves are small, narrow, and bright green in color. They are arranged in a rosette at the base of the stem and are usually no more than 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) long. The stem is thin and wiry and bears small, white flowers that are no more than 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) across. The flowers have five petals and are arranged in clusters at the tips of the stems.


Knotted Pearlwort is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of habitats. It prefers moist, well-drained soil and is often found in grassy areas, lawns, and meadows. It can also be found in open woods, on rocky slopes, and along stream banks. It is commonly found in the Arctic and subarctic regions and is often one of the few plants that can survive in these harsh environments.


Knotted Pearlwort has been used for centuries for a variety of purposes. In traditional medicine, it has been used to treat wounds, digestive problems, and respiratory infections. It has also been used as a diuretic and to reduce inflammation. The plant contains several compounds, including saponins and flavonoids, that are believed to have medicinal properties.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Knotted Pearlwort is also used as a ground cover in landscaping. Its small size and attractive green foliage make it a popular choice for rock gardens, borders, and between stepping stones.


In conclusion, Knotted Pearlwort is a fascinating plant with a variety of physical characteristics and uses. It is a hardy plant that can survive in harsh environments and has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. It is also a popular choice for landscaping due to its small size and attractive green foliage. If you ever come across this plant in your travels, take a moment to appreciate its beauty and versatility.

More Information about Knotted Pearlwort

Knotted Pearlwort is also known by several common names, including Knotted Pearlwort, Knotted Pearlwort, and Scottish Moss. The name "pearlwort" comes from the small, white flowers that resemble pearls. The name "knotted" refers to the way the stem grows in a twisted, knotted manner.

One interesting aspect of Knotted Pearlwort is its ability to reproduce asexually. The plant can produce small, bulb-like structures called bulbils, which can detach from the parent plant and grow into new individuals. This allows the plant to spread rapidly and colonize new areas.

Knotted Pearlwort is also an important food source for a variety of insects and other animals. The flowers attract bees and other pollinators, while the leaves and stems provide food for grazing animals such as sheep and deer.

In some cultures, Knotted Pearlwort has been associated with folklore and mythology. In Ireland, it is said to be a sign of good luck, while in Scotland it is said to be associated with the fairy folk. It has also been used in traditional medicine as a treatment for headaches and as a tonic for the liver and kidneys.

Knotted Pearlwort is a versatile plant that can be grown in a variety of settings. It is often used as a ground cover in rock gardens, where its small size and attractive foliage provide a lush carpet of green. It can also be grown in containers, where it can be used to create miniature landscapes or fairy gardens.

In addition to its aesthetic and medicinal properties, Knotted Pearlwort has also been studied for its potential environmental benefits. It has been found to have phytoremediation properties, meaning it can absorb and remove pollutants from soil and water. This makes it a potentially valuable tool for cleaning up contaminated sites and improving soil quality.

Despite its many benefits, Knotted Pearlwort is not without its challenges. It can be invasive in some settings, particularly in areas with moist, fertile soil. It can also be difficult to control, as it spreads rapidly and can quickly overtake other plants in its vicinity. As with any plant, it is important to carefully consider the site and the potential impact of introducing a new species before planting Knotted Pearlwort.

One interesting fact about Knotted Pearlwort is that it has been used as a traditional source of food in some cultures. The young leaves and stems can be eaten raw or cooked and are said to have a slightly tangy, citrus-like flavor. However, it is important to note that Knotted Pearlwort is not widely consumed as a food and should be consumed with caution, as it may contain toxic compounds in some cases.

In addition to its potential environmental benefits, Knotted Pearlwort has also been studied for its potential as a natural remedy for certain health conditions. For example, a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research found that Knotted Pearlwort extract showed antibacterial activity against several strains of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. Another study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that Knotted Pearlwort extract had a protective effect on liver cells in rats.

Overall, while more research is needed to fully understand the potential health benefits of Knotted Pearlwort, it is clear that this plant has a long and fascinating history of use in traditional medicine and culture. Whether you are interested in its medicinal properties, its environmental benefits, or simply its aesthetic appeal, Knotted Pearlwort is a plant that is well worth exploring and appreciating.


Knotted Pearlwort filmed at these 2 locations:
  • Sandscale Haws, Cumbria: 8th July 2023
  • Malham, North Yorkshire: 29th July 2023

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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