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Rock Stitchwort (Minuartia dawsonensis)

Life history

Species overview

Rock Stitchwort (Minuartia dawsonensis), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found on dolomite and sandstone ledges and dry prairies. Blooming occurs early June through early July; fruiting occurs early July through early September. The optimal identification period for this species is early July through early September.

Synonyms: Arenaria dawsonensis, A. litorea, A. stricta ssp. dawsonensis, A. stricta var. dawsonensis, A. stricta var. litorea, Sabulina dawsonensis


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Primary leaves with secondary leaves fascicled in their axils.
  • Flower characteristics: Inflorescence open, often extending to the middle of the stem; pedicels slender, 5 to 20 mm; sepals 3.5 to 6.5 mm, broadly lanceolate, acute; petals white, 5 to 8 mm long, entire.
  • Fruit characteristics: Equal to or a little longer than the sepals, all three valves split to the middle or beyond; seed 0.8 to 1.5 mm, brown-black.
  • Leaf characteristics: Opposite; primary leaves 8 to 30 mm long, 3-nerved.


  • Blooming phenology: early June through early July
  • Fruiting phenology: early July through early September
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is early July through early September


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Juniperus virginiana, Betula papyrifera, Solidago hispida, Selaginella ruspestris, Pellaea glabella, Arabis lyrata, Aquilegia canadensis, Carex eburnea, Artemisia campestris, Andropogon scoparius, Bouteloua curtipendula.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Rock Stitchwort (Minuartia dawsonensis). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Minuartia dawsonensis in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found on dolomite and sandstone ledges and dry prairies.
  • Soils: Rocky or gravelly, often calcareous soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Rock Stitchwort. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Dry Cliff 3
Dry Prairie 2

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Rock Stitchwort. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid locating landings, staging areas, or access routes in open sandy areas dominated by native grasses.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid direct disturbance to sensitive microsites such as seeps, cliffs, and moss-covered boulders.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Follow BMPs, especially around streams and use care near ravines, steep slopes, cliffs, rock outcrops, etc.
  • Maintain and restore open habitat through selective clearing and brushing.
  • Prescribed burns and/or brushing may be beneficial (dependent on local site conditions).
  • Buffer management around unique microhabitats such as ephemeral ponds, seeps, etc.


Rock Stitchwort Photo.

Photo © Derek Anderson.

Rock Stitchwort Photo.

The sepals are longer than the petals in Minuartia dawsonensis. The opposite is true in the more common M. michauxii.

Photo © Derek Anderson.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition