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Key to Caryophyllaceae

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1 Leaves not accompanied by stipules (stipules absent).
  2 Sepals distinct, or slightly fused at their bases
1 Leaves accompanied by stipules (stipules present), these scarious or hyaline and readily apparent.
    3 Fruit a utricle; seed 1 per fruit; petals absent.
      4 Leaves alternate; staminodes petaloid, ovate to oblong; [tribe Corrigioleae]
      4 Leaves opposite (or the uppermost alternate in Herniaria); staminodes not petaloid, subulate; [tribe Paronychieae].
        5 Stipules inconspicuous; sepals green-margined, obtuse, lacking awns
        5 Stipules usually conspicuous; sepals white-scarious-margined, hooded or awned
    3 Fruit a capsule; seeds 3-many per fruit; petals present.
          6 Floral bracts and sepals scarious throughout (thin and membranous), appearing chaffy; [non-native of disturbed, sandy habitats; c. and w. FL]
          6 Floral bracts and sepals not scarious nor appearing chaffy (the margins hyaline, but not scarious throughout); [natives and non-natives, collectively widespread].
             7 Stem leaves subulate, 1-2 mm long, pectinate-fringed at the base; basal rosette leaves spatulate (usually withering quickly after overwintering; stems wiry, stiff, subdichotomously branched; [of xeric sands on the Coastal Plain from se. VA southward]
             7 Stem leaves larger, mostly both longer and broader, not pectinate-fringed at the base; basal rosette present or absent; stems either thicker, more flexuous, or not subdichotomously branched; [collectively more widespread].
image of plant
Show caption*© Erik Danielson
               8 Leaves appearing verticillate, 10-16 per node, filiform to linear; [tribe Spergulaeae]
               8 Leaves opposite or in whorls of 4, linear to ovate or spatulate.
                 9 Leaves mostly in whorls of 4, obovate-spatulate, 2-8 mm long; [tribe Polycarpaeae]
                 9 Leaves opposite, linear or orbicular, 5-40 mm long.
                   10 Leaves orbicular-ovate; styles partly united; [tribe Polycarpaeae]
                   10 Leaves linear; styles separate; [tribe Spergulaeae]
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