Thyme-leaved sandwort, Arenaria serphyllifolia

Life Cycle

Annual, or more frequently winter annual.


Reproducing only by seed.


Stems (Fig 5) erect, usually much-branched from near the base, 5-25cm high, covered with very short inward-curved or nearly flat-lying hair which gives a somewhat rough texture and a bluish-green colour.


Small, opposite (2 per node), stalkless, slightly rough-hairy, ovate with a pointed tip, 4-8mm long and usually shorter than the length of stem between pairs (Fig 8).

Flowers and Fruit

Flowers (Fig 6,7) very small, 2-3mm long, greenish (the tiny white petals too small to show), on very slender stalks up to 10mm long in branching inflorescences; seedpod ovoid, about 3mm long, opening at the tip and releasing many, extremely fine (0.5mm in diameter) seeds. Flowers from late spring to late summer but is dry, shriveled, and virtually gone by fall at which time the tiny new seedlings are appearing.


This plant is Native to Europe. Thyme-leaved sandwort occurs throughout Ontario in dry sandy soils. It is most common in fall rye and winter wheat where its winter annual habit is an advantage; but it also occurs in spring-sown crops, gardens, roadsides, orchards, sidewalks, sandy beaches and in rocky places.


Thyme-leaves sandwort does not compete well with more competitive, taller growing species. It prefers poor soil, full sun and dry growing conditions.

Distinguishing Features

It is distinguished by its bluish-green appearance, very small leaves, slightly rough stems and leaves, and tiny greenish flowers.

Figure #1.

Figure #2.

Thyme-leaved sandwort.

Figure #3.

Figure #4.

Figure #5.

Figure #6.

White flower of thyme-leaved sandwort.

Figure #7.

Flowers of thyme-leaved sandwort.

Figure #8.

Leaves of thyme-leaved sandwort.