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Genus of the Week

Week of May 11-17

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This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of all available Web resources on a particular genus.

This week's genus:

Cerastium: The Mouse-Ear Chickweeds

Subclass: Dicotyledoneae
Superorder: Caryophyllidae
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Caryophyllaceae: The Carnations
Subfamily: Alsinoideae
Number of Species: At Least 10
Root: Greek kerastes, meaning "horn", a reference to the seed capsule.

The plants of the genus Cerastium can be found in the Northeastern United States quite easily; simply look at someone's lawn! Several species in this genus have become common weeds, and their tiny flowers are among the first to open in spring. The leaves of these species are considered edible but should be boiled first.

Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Cerastium species:


  1. Forey, Pamela. Wild Flowers of North America. New York, Gallery Books: 1991.
  2. Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
  3. Neiring, William A. and Nancy C. Olmstead., eds. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 1979.

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