Sagina procumbens is a species of flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae known by the common names procumbent pearlwort, birdeye pearlwort and matted pearlwort. It can be found throughout the Northern Hemisphere and parts of South America. It is a common weed of many environments. It can be found in wild and disturbed habitat, especially moist areas. It can sometimes be seen growing in lawns or in cracks in the sidewalk. This is a perennial herb forming clumps or mats of hairless green herbage, sometimes vaguely resembling a patch of moss. The leaves are linear and up to 1 or 2 centimeters long. The inflorescence is a solitary flower with four or five sepals and four or five small white petals, but the petals are sometimes absent.
Sagina procumbens is a mat-forming plant with narrow leaves, ending in a bristle-like point, and tiny flowers which usually have no petals, or occasionally have 4 minute green petals (National Museums and Galleries of Northern Ireland and Environment and Heritage Service, 2008). It often forms a rosette of leaves, from which one or more stems develop. These stems are bright green, glabrous, and tend to sprawl across other stems or the ground. Pairs of opposite leaves occur at intervals along the stems. Each pair of leaves merge together and wrap around the stem, which is slightly swollen where each pair of leaves occurs. Each leaf is about ½" long and bright green like the stems. It is linear, glabrous, and smooth along the margins. The stems often terminate in either individual flowers or small cymes of flowers. Each flower is up to ¼" across when fully open, consisting of 4 green sepals, 0-4 white petals, 4 stamens with white anthers, 4 white styles, and a green ovary that contains the developing seeds. The sepals are oblong-ovate and persistent. The petals are usually shorter and more narrow than the sepals; they are often missing or poorly developed in individual flowers. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring and lasts about 1 month for a colony of plants. There is no noticeable floral scent. The ovary of each flower develops into an ovoid seed capsule that is white and membranous; there are 4 blunt teeth along its upper rim. Each capsule contains several dark tiny seeds that can be blown about by the wind. The surface of each seed is minutely pebbly. The root system consists of a slender taproot that is shallow and divides frequently into secondary roots. This plant spreads by reseeding itself and it often forms small colonies of plants with a mossy appearance. (Hilty, 2006).
This plant is useful.
How to get rid of:
Appropriate cultural management of the turf, aeration, feeding and regular mowing will ensure that the sward remains dense, reducing the opportunity of bare soil becoming a seed bed for Pearlwort.
Chemical Control Spray with a systemic weedkiller that is absorbed through the leaves of the plant, the active ingredient makes its way through the cells of the plant down to the root. It kills these first and then the foliage starts to die off.
Pearlwort is a persistent weed and may need further applications of weedkiller often repeat spraying after 6-8 weeks.