Annual herb with a thread-like to slender taproot 10 - 40 cm tall Stem: upright, slender, forking, with thread-like upper branches. Leaves: opposite, 0.5 - 3 cm long, 1 - 11 mm wide, elliptic to oval, one-veined, thin, often dotted or blotched, with conspicuous stipules. Stipules two per node, 0.5 - 4 mm long, long-pointed, papery. Flowers: diffuse, solitary, in axils of leaf-like bracts, often concealed within bracts, without petals, tiny, hypanthium (a floral tube formed by the sepals and stamens) cup-shaped. Stamens usually five. Styles two, short. Sepals: five, ascending or slightly descending, fused at the base, greenish to brownish with white or translucent margins, oblong egg-shaped with a point at the tip, flat, scarious-margined (dry, thin, and membranous), with a short, prominent hood at the end. Calyx (the sepals, collectively) 1 - 1.5 mm long. Fruit: bladder-like, one-seeded (utricle), indehiscent, about 0.5 mm long, exceeding the sepals, egg-shaped to spherical, granular-tipped, membranous, on an upright stalk. Seed brown, laterally compressed.
Similar species: Paronychia fastigiata and P. fastigiata var. paleacea are similar but have minutely hairy stems and longer calyxes (2 - 3 mm).
Flowering: mid-June to early September
Habitat and ecology: Found in a variety of habitats, including the bases of large trees where the soil is almost free of litter and other plants. It also occurs in woods, sandy Black Oak savannas, morainic areas of White Oak savannas, sandy roadsides, and near old campsites.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Paronychia comes from the Greek words para, meaning near, and onyx, meaning nail. Canadensis refers to Canada, but is also used in reference to North America (a result of early French influence).
Author: The Morton Arboretum
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
Infrequent to rare throughout the state. This species prefers a dry, and rather sandy soil, or very sandy soil in dry places in woods, usually near the base of a large tree--which is usually a white or black oak-where the wind has kept the ground free from leaves and where the mineral soil is usually exposed. It is not absent from the central counties, as our map indicates, but it would be difficult to find it there now because woods that are not grazed are rare.
Glabrous annual with slender, erect, forking stems and almost capillary ultimate branches; lvs 5-30 נ2-8 mm, elliptic to oval, thin, entire, usually punctate; infl diffuse; cal 1-1.5 mm; sep oblong-ovate, scarious-margined, 1-nerved, flat, the apiculate hood very short; fr exceeding the sep, obovate-spheroid, granular at the tip; styles short, free nearly to the base, recurved; plants not highly variable. Sandy soil and open places; N.H. to Minn., s. to Va., Ga., Ala., Mo., and Kans. June-Sept. (Anychia c.)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.