Corn Spurrey

Spergula arvensis

Family: - Caryophyllaceae.


Spergula is from the German name for this group of plants.

Arvensis is from the Latin arvum meaning cultivated field and refers to the plants association with cultivation.

Corn Spurrey

Other names:

Corn Spurry



An open, annual to short lived perennial plant with weak stems about 25 cm long carrying rings of narrow cylindrical leaves. The sweetly scented, white flowers have five, white notched petals from late winter to spring.



Two. Long and slender, 10 mm long by 0.5 mm diameter, with no petiole. Hairless. Tip almost pointed. The seedling has a hypocotyl but no epicotyl.

First Leaves:

Paired, 20 mm long by 0.5 mm diameter, needle shaped, tip indented. Few or no hairs. Later leaves arise in paired groups on either side of the stem giving the appearance of a ring(whorl) of leaves.


Does not form a rosette. Leaves opposite but appear to be in rings around the stem.

Stipules - -1-2 mm long, broadly egg shaped, papery, translucent, dry, fall off with age. 2 stipules for each ring of leaves.

Petiole - None.

Blade - Needle shaped, fleshy, with a channel underneath, 5-50 mm long by 0.5-2 mm wide, obtuse tip. Few short, glandular, downy hairs.


Initially erect, but become prostrate as plant grows, up to 100-500 mm long, solid, round. Branched from base and along their length, often with sharp bends at the nodes. Short, sparse, glandular hairs or almost hairless.

Flower head:

Flowers on long drooping stalks at ends of stems in irregular leafless cymes forming a panicle.


White, 8-12 mm diameter. Strong, sweet scent.

Ovary - 1 celled. 5 free styles alternate with sepals.

Sepals - 5, 2-5 mm long, egg shaped, white to translucent papery edges, obtuse tip. Sparsely glandular hairy. Longer when in fruit.

Petals - 5, white, egg shaped, 2-4 mm long, smooth edges, obtuse tip, nearly as long as the sepals

Stamens - 5-10, usually 10, attached to a glandular hairy ring.

Anthers - Globular.


Egg shaped capsule, 4-6 mm long, on curved 5-22 mm long stalks(pedicels), a little longer than the calyx, opens by 5 deep valves opposite the sepals.


Many, black, orb to lens shaped, 1 mm diameter, sharply keeled or surrounded by a narrow wing, covered with small, club shaped lumps or rough, notched on top.


Key Characters:

Glandular hairs at least on the calyx.

Leaves linear-terete, with papery edges, stipitate, opposite or appearing whorled.

Styles 5, free or almost so.

Sepals free or almost so, obtuse tip, usually with 1 central nerve, rarely 3 nerved.

Capsule 3-7 mm long, longer than the sepals, opening by 5 valves.

Seeds many.

From J.M. Black, N.T. Burbidge and J.R. Wheeler.


Life cycle:

Annual or short lived perennial. Seed germinates in autumn or spring and may continue into summer in irrigated areas. Flowers late winter/spring. It may persist through summer in irrigated areas.



By seed.

Flowering times:

September to January in SA.

August to November in Perth.

Late winter to spring in WA.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:




Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by seed.

Origin and History:

European. Asia. Almost cosmopolitan.



Occurs throughout Tasmania.



Temperate. Mediterranean.

Most abundant in the higher rainfall areas.


More abundant on temporarily waterlogged soils

Plant Associations:




Weed of crops, cereals, cultivation, vegetables, horticulture, gardens, new pastures, new lawns, roadsides, refuse sites, urban bushland and disturbed areas.

Strongly competitive.


Not recorded as toxic.



Management and Control:


Eradication strategies:

Prevent seed set.


Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Five-anther Spurrey (Spergula pentandra).

Plants of similar appearance:

Sandspurrey (Spergularia rubra) is similar but has pink flowers and leafy cymes.

In the cotyledon stage it looks similar to Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) and Purple Calandrinia (Calandrinia menziesii) but are distinguished by being circular in cross section.


Auld, B.A. and Medd R.W. (1992). Weeds. An illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P146.

Black, J.M. (1965). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia). P356. Diagram.

Burbidge, N.T. and Gray, M. (1970). Flora of the Australian Capital Territory. (Australian National University Press, Canberra). P167-168. Diagram.

Gilbey, D. (1989). Identification of weeds in cereal and legume crops. Bulletin 4107. (Western Australian Department of Agriculture , Perth). P23. Photos.

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (1997). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia). P130. Photos.

Hyde-Wyatt, B.H. and Morris, D.I. (1975). Tasmanian weed handbook. (Tasmanian Department of Agriculture, Hobart, Tasmania). P74-75. Diagrams.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #1153.1.

Marchant, N.G., Wheeler, J.R., Rye, B.L., Bennett, E.M., Lander, N.S. and Macfarlane, T.D. (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P109.

Wilding, J.L. et al. (1987). Crop weeds. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P91. Diagrams. Photos.


Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or for more information.