Interim profile, incomplete information
Taxonomic name: Cerastium fontanum Baumg.
Synonyms: Cerastium fontanum subsp. triviale (Spenn.) Jalas [= Cerastium fontanum subsp. vulgare], Cerastium vulgare Hartm. [= Cerastium fontanum subsp. vulgare], Cerastium vulgatum auct. [= Cerastium fontanum subsp. vulgare]
Common names: big chickweed, céraiste commun, common mouse-ear chickweed
Organism type: herb
Among the 108 alien vascular species currently found in the sub-Antarctic Cerastium fontanum has a wide distribution only seriously rivalled in range by Poa annua.
Cerastium fontanum is a stiff-hairy, glandular biennial or perennial, the stems sprawling but the flowering stems erect, 2-4 dm. tall. Leaves of the prostrate stems opposite, crowded, oblanceolate, 10-25 mm. long and 2-5 mm. broad; leaves of the flowering stems opposite, widely spaced, up to 4 cm. long and 15 mm. broad. Flowers several in an open, dichotomously branched inflorescence; sepals 5, 4-7 mm. long, stiff-hairy; petals 5, white, bi-lobed, equaling the sepals; stamens 10; styles 5. The fruit is a capsule, membranous, cylindric, slightly curved, twice as long as the sepals, opening by 10 teeth (Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture 2006).
Native range:: Naturalized throughout temperate regions, exact native range obscure. Native range recorded as: Africa, Macaronesia (Portugal - Azores, Madeira Islands; Spain - Canary Islands); Northern Africa (Algeria; Morocco); Asia-Western Asia (Turkey), Siberia (Russian Federation - Eastern Siberia, Western Siberia). Europe: Northern Europe (Denmark; Finland; Iceland; Ireland; Norway; Sweden; United Kingdom); Central Europe (Austria; Belgium; Czech Republic; Germany; Hungary; Netherlands; Poland; Slovakia; Switzerland); Eastern Europe (Belarus; Estonia; Latvia; Lithuania; Moldova; Russian Federation - European part; Ukraine [incl. Krym]); Southeastern Europe (Albania; Bulgaria; Former Yugoslavia; Greece; Italy [incl. Sardinia, Sicily]; Romania); Southwestern Europe (France [incl. Corsica]; Portugal; Spain [incl. Baleares]) (USDA-ARS 2008).
Known introduced range: Introduced and common in most of Canada and the United States (Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture 2006).
Local dispersal methods
Natural dispersal (local):
On animals: Distribution on South Georgia may have been assisted by reindeer Rangifer tarandus through seed transport in droppings and on hair and hooves.
In the sub-antarctic region Poa annua and Cerastium fontanum are the most widespread introduced species (Walton 1975), but few data on their reproductive capacity in this biome are available (Frenot & Gloaguen 1994).
Compiled by: IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group with support from the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme (OTEP) project XOT603, a joint project with the Cayman Islands Government - Department of Environment
Last Modified: Tuesday, 24 March 2009