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Large-leaved Sandwort (Moehringia macrophylla)

Life history

Species overview

Large-leaved Sandwort (Moehringia macrophylla), a Wisconsin Endangered plant, is found on dry to partly shaded cliffs in the Penokee Range. Blooming occurs late May through late August; fruiting occurs early June through late August. The optimal identification period for this species is early June through late July.

Synonyms: Arenaria macrophylla


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Sepals 3 to 6 mm, acute and often longer than the petals; leaves opposite, lanceolate to elliptic, 3 to 8 mm wide, and acute at the tip.
  • Flower characteristics: White, 5-parted, borne solitary or in terminal cymes; sepals acute, 3 to 6 mm long, longer than the petals.
  • Fruit characteristics: Capsule round to oblong, shorter than the sepals, with 6 slits only to the middle when mature; seeds 1.5 mm, with a conspicuous appendage at the attachment scar.
  • Leaf characteristics: Opposite, lanceolate to elliptic, mostly 2 to 5 cm long by 3 to 8 mm wide, often acute or tapering to a sharp point at the tip.


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


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Thuja occidentalis, Polypodium vulgare, Woodsia ilvensis, Dryopteris fragrans, lichens, mosses, Pinus strobus.

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 Large-leaved Sandwort (Moehringia macrophylla). 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 Moehringia macrophylla in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusEND
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 dry to partly shaded cliffs in the Penokee Range.
  • Soils: Rocky soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Large-leaved Sandwort. 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
Bedrock Glade 3

Ecological landscapes

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

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score
North Central Forest 3

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 broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • 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.
  • Avoid direct disturbance to sensitive microsites such as seeps, cliffs, and moss-covered boulders.

Management guidance

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

  • Buffer management around unique microhabitats such as ephemeral ponds, seeps, etc.
  • Follow BMPs, especially around streams and use care near ravines, steep slopes, cliffs, rock outcrops, etc.


Large-leaved Sandwort Photo.

Photo © Robert H. Read.

Large-leaved Sandwort Photo.

Photo © Robert H. Read.

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