Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 March 2018 | 10(3): 11459–11463




Umbrella Starwort Stellaria umbellata Turcz. (Caryophyllaceae): a new record to the flora of the western Himalaya, India


Satish Chandra 1 & D.S. Rawat 2


1,2 Department of Biological Sciences, College of Basic Sciences & Humanities, Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand 263145, India
1 (corresponding author), 2




Abstract: The species Stellaria umbellata is reported as a new record for the western Himalayan flora.  Critical examination of the species in nature, Indian herbaria, online herbaria and protologue confirmed its identity as Stellaria umbellata.  Earlier, it was erroneously identified in the western Himalaya as Stellaria subumbellata or Holosteum umbellatum.  This species was previously not reported from the western, central or eastern Himalaya and thus, it is also a new record for the flora of the Himalaya.


Keywords: New record, Stellaria, Uttarakhand, western Himalaya.







Editor: Aparna Watve, Biome Conservation Foundation, Pune, India.    Date of publication: 26 March 2018 (online & print)


Manuscript details: Ms # 3867 | Received 29 October 2017 | Final received 15 February 2018 | Finally accepted 01 March 2018


Citation: Chandra, S. & D.S. Rawat (2018). Umbrella Starwort Stellaria umbellata Turcz. (Caryophyllaceae): a new record to the flora of the western Himalaya, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 10(3): 11459–11463;


Copyright: © Chandra & Rawat 2018. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. JoTT allows unrestricted use of this article in any medium, reproduction and distribution by providing adequate credit to the authors and the source of publication.


Funding: Self funded.


Competing interests: The authors declare no competing interests.


Acknowledgements: The authors are thankful to the Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanical Garden Kew (K), New York Botanical Garden (NY) and National Museum of Natural History (P) Paris for providing online access to the herbaria.  The authors are also thankful to the herbarium curators of Forest Research Institute Dehradun (DD), Wild Life Institute of India Dehradun and Botanical Survey of India, Northern Circle Dehradun (BSD) for providing access to the herbarium and library.





The genus Stellaria L. is cosmopolitan in distribution and represented by 120 species in the world and mainly distributed in the northern temperate regions (Mabberley 2008).  Stellaria belongs to the Subfamily Alsinoideae (DC.) Fenzl and Tribe Alsineae DC. of the family Caryophyllaceae Juss. (Bittrich 1993).   This genus occurs in various habitats from the plains to the alpine regions, often in shady locations or on rocky slopes.  In India, the genus is represented by 19 species distributed from the temperate to the alpine regions (Majumdar 1993; Pusalkar & Srivastava 2015; Sekar & Srivastava 2007).  It is characterized by exstipulate leaves, free sepals, bipartite petals varying from mid to base, and fruit a dehiscent capsule, opening by valves twice as many as styles.

Stellaria umbellata Turcz. is a Siberian species first described from the Baikal mountain of Siberia (Turczaninow 1842).  Now it is known to occur in China, North America, Russia and Kazakhstan (Shishkin 1936; Shilong & Rabeler 2001; Morton 2005) inhabiting high mountain peaks, alpine zones, montane grasslands, forests and steppes.  The species flourishes in elevation ranges of 1,000–2,800 m in North America, 1,600–3,800 m in China and present in alpine and subalpine zones in Russia (Shishkin 1936; Shilong & Rabeler 2001; Morton 2005).  This species was not reported from the western Himalaya (Pakistan, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand), central Himalaya (Nepal) and the eastern Himalaya (Sikkim, Bhutan, Arunachal Pradesh) (Ghazanfar & Nasir 1974; Chowdhery & Wadhwa 1984; Grierson 1984; Majumdar 1993; Hajra et al. 1996; Srivastava 1998; Press et al. 2000; Majumdar 2002; Uniyal et al. 2007).  Taxonomically, S. umbellata belongs to the section Eustellaria Fenzl and series Umbellatae Schischk. of Stellaria genus (Shishkin 1936).


Material and Methods

The specimens were collected from different localities of Uttarakhand (the western Himalaya) and deposited at G.B. Pant University Herbarium, Department of Biological Sciences, CBSH Pantnagar, Uttarakhand, India (GBPUH).  Herbarium specimens of the Indian western Himalaya housed in the herbarium of the Forest Research Institute (DD) and Botanical Survey of India Northern Circle (BSD) were also thoroughly examined.  The specimens were identified by relevant literature on Stellaria umbellata (Turczaninow 1842; Schischkin 1936; Shilong & Rabeler 2001; Morton 2005).  These were also compared with digital images of specimens of the species housed in the New York Botanical Garden (NY), Royal Botanical Garden Kew (K) and National Museum of Natural History Paris (P).


Stellaria umbellata (Image 1)

Turcz., Bull. Soc. Imp. Naturalistes Moscou. 15: 173. 1842. Stellaria subumbellata sensu Edgew. in Hook.f., Fl. Brit. India 1: 233. 1874; Majumdar in B.D. Sharma & N.P. Balakr., Fl. India 2: 589. 1993.

Herb, perennial. Stem slender, branched, ascending, 5–15 cm long, glabrous, hairy near the base of distal 2–3 leaf pairs.  Trichomes multicellular, uniseriate, nonglandular, 250–800 µm long.  Leaves elliptic–oblong, 3–13 × 2–7 mm, distal 2–3 leaf pairs larger than proximal leaves, apex acute–obtuse, both surfaces glabrous, proximal leaves subsessile, distal leaves sessile, leaf base hairy in distal 2–3 leaf pairs.  Flowers in terminal umbellate cyme, flowers 3–7, subtended by scarious bracts; peduncle long, slender, glabrous.  Bracts 3–7, ovate–lanceolate, unequal, 1.5–2.5 × 0.5 mm, glabrous, margins broadly scarious.  Pedicel 5–20 mm long, slender, glabrous, curved in fruits.  Flowers minute, apetalous.  Sepals 5, ovate–lanceolate, 2–3 × 1 mm, glabrous, veins 3, margin scarious, scarcely serrate.  Petals absent.  Stamens 5–10; if 5 present all fertile, if 10 present then either all fertile or 2–4 staminodes, unequal in length, antisepalous larger than alternisepalous stamens, shorter than sepals, anther yellow.  Ovary ovoid–oblong, 1.5–2.5 mm; styles 3, 0.75 mm long.  Capsule ovate–oblong, 3–4 mm, 1.5 – 2 times longer than persistent sepals, open by six valves, dehiscing up to the base. Seeds 3–8 per fruit, suborbiclar–oblong, compressed, surface smooth, brown (Fig. 1 A–N).

Flowering: August–September.

Fruiting: September–October.

Specimens examined : India, Uttarakhand: Garhwal, Chamoli District, Roopkund area, near Jurangali, 30.264166670N & 79.735833330E, 4,700m, 01.ix.2014, coll. D.S. Rawat & Satish Chandra s.n. acc. no. 800 (Govind Ballabh Pant University Herbarium Pantnagar, Uttarakhand, India!); Rudraprayag, Kedarnath, Madhuganga valley, 4,500m, 30.749166670N & 79.043333330E, 03.x.2007, coll. D.S. Rawat & Satish Chandra s.n. acc. no. 801 (Govind Ballabh Pant University Herbarium Pantnagar, Uttarakhand, India!) (Image 2); Uttarkashi District, Base camp, 4,725m, 27.ix.1967, B.D. Naithani 37469 (BSD!); Kedar Dome area, 5,400m, 1.x.1967, B.D. Naithani 37419 (BSD!); on way to Kedarkharak, 6.viii.2003, P.K. Pusalkar 103889 (BSD!); Kumaon, Pithoragarh District, Ralam Valley, 4,500m, 29.viii.1884, J.F. Duthie 2755 (DD!); Ralam Pass, 4,572m, 29.viii.1884, J.F.Duthie 000723649 (K Image!); Byans Valley, Kutti-Yangti Valley near Gohnika Lake, 4,500m, 7.ix.1884, J.F. Duthie 2755 (DD!); Lebung Pass, 5,100m, 6.ix.1884, J.F. Duthie 2755 (DD!); Nan Hatti-Chhota Hathi, 4,800m, 19.vii.2004, G.S. Rawat 14559 (Herbarium of Wild Life Institute of India Dehradun!).

India, Jammu & Kashmir: Kashmir, Burgil Pass, 3,900m, 14.ix.1893, J.F. Duthie s.n.(DD!); Cherar Lake, Deosai Planes, 3,900m, 15.ix.1893, J.F. Duthie 14134 (DD!); Burzil Pass, 3,000–3,300 m, 13.ix.1893, J.F. Duthie 14017 (DD!); Burzil Valley, 3,000–3,300 m, 13.ix.1893, J.F. Duthie P05436785 (P Image!) Kamri Valley near Kalapani, 3,300–3,600 m, 15.vii.1892, J.F. Duthie 11846 (DD!); Kargil Valley, 4,200–4,600 m, 23.viii.1893, J.F. Duthie 14137 (DD!); Gamhara Pass, Suid Valley, 4,200–4,600 m, 30.viii.1893, J.F. Duthie s.n. (DD!); Kampatri Nullah near Zogi La, 3,600m, 20.viii.1893, J.F. Duthie 14140 (DD!).

United States of America. Arizona: Coconino country, Uninta Mountains 2,600m,14.vii.2008, G. Rink. 01191927 (NY Image!); Utah: Wasatch Country, 2,895m, 18.viii.1998, Neol H. Holemgren & Patricia K. Holemgren, 01192094 (NY Image!); Rich Country, 2,535m, 18.viii.2011, Neol H. Holemgren & Patricia K. Holemgren, 01425016 (NY Image!); Idaho: Franklin Country, near Bear lake, 2255 m, 14.vii.2007, Neol H. Holemgren & Patricia K. Holemgren, 01192095 (NY Image!); Wasatch range, 2,430m, 21.vii. 2010, Neol H. Holemgren & Patricia K. Holemgren, 01207789 (NY Image!).

Distribution: This species is known from Siberia, China, North America and Kazakhstan (Shishkin 1936; Shilong & Rabeler 2001; Morton 2005) and from India.  It often occurs near the snow line in the western Himalaya on rocks with mosses in small populations.







Morphological variation within species

The species S. umbellata shows remarkable morphological variations according to geographical regions. In the Baikal mountains in Russia and in China plant height of the species commonly reaches up to 5–15 cm, while in Indian and North American populations it may reach up to 20cm and 40cm respectively.  The shape and size of leaves are also variable.  In Russian populations leaves are 5–15 × 2–7 mm, elliptic - oblong, apex acute-acuminate and proximal leaves are smaller than the distal leaves but in the North American population leaves are 3–9 cm × 1–3 mm, elliptic - lanceolate, somewhat succulent and all leaves are almost equal in length. Numbers of flowers in terminal cymose umbel are 3–10 in Russian, Chinese and Indian populations but extend up to 20 in North American populations.  Number of stamens ranges in the species from 5–10.  In North American populations five stamens are recorded while 10 stamens are present in Russian and Chinese population.  In Indian population the number of stamens ranges from 5–10.  If five stamens are present then all are fertile, if 10 stamens are present then either all are fertile or 2–4 are staminodes (Turczaninow 1842; Shishkin 1936; Shilong & Rabeler 2001; Morton 2005).  Flora of China (Shilong & Rabeler 2001) distinguished S. subumbellata from S. umbellata on the basis of stamen number and leaf shape.  They considered stem tufted, leaves linear to linear–lanceolate and five stamens in S. submbellata while, solitary stem, elliptic leaves and 10 stamens in S. umbellata. These characters, however, are not reliable due to the presence of five stamens and linear–lanceolate leaves in S. umbellata.


Dubious identity of Stellaria subumbellata

Edgeworth described S. subumbellata Edgew. in the Flora of British India (Edgeworth & Hooker f. 1874) on the basis of specimens collected by T. Thomson from Nubra Valley, western Tibet (K000723653!) and J.D. Hooker from Sikkim, India (K000723651!, K000723652!, K000723654!, K000723655!) in 1849.  Edgeworth described the new species S. subumbellata after distinguishing it from S. umbellata on the basis of seed surface pattern and the presence of fewer bracts.  But in his publication he did not mention the total number of bracts present in S. subumbellata.  All the above-mentioned specimens from India are placed erroneously in the Stellaria irrigua section in the Kew virtual herbarium.  Though, Stellaria irrigua is not reported from India till date.  In the flora of Pakistan Ghazanfar & Nasir (1986) also mentioned that the S. subumbellata is not different from S. umbellata.  Moreover, description of S. subumbellata as per Ghazanfar & Nasir (1986) matches closely with our specimens except granular seeds. Another allied Chinese species S. parviumbellata Y. Z. Zhao contains 2 bracts but differ from species of S. umbellata and S. subumbellata by having pilose stem, ovate–orbicular leaves and fruit slightly longer than persistent sepals.  Pusalkar & Singh (2012) have also described S. subumbellata in the Flora of Gangotri National Park as petaliferous or non petaliferous species but in all specimens studied by us petals were absent.  All other characters of S. subumbellata described by Pusalkar & Singh (2012) match well with our plant specimens.

After examining plants in nature, studying herbarium specimens and relevant literature (Shishkin 1936; Turczaninow 1842; Shilong & Rabeler 2001; Morton 2005) it is clear that in the western Himalaya this species is erroneously identified as S. subumbellata.  After checking herbarium sheets wrongly identified as S. subumbellata housed in DD and BSD herbarium and images of herbarium sheets from K and P herbaria it is concluded here that this species is common in the western Himalaya.

The fate of EdgeworthÕs S. subumbellata can only be decided after examining bract number and seed surface structure in the specimens from the eastern Himalaya.  This examination will make it clear that whether this species was an erroneous identification of S. umbellata or a different and distinct species.


Erroneous identification

Some specimens from Uttarakhand, India housed in BSD (37469, 37419, 103889) are erroneously identified as Holosteum umbellatum L. whereas H. umbellatum is a very different species of large size forming cluster of leaves at stem base, with distinct petals longer than sepals, and seeds being shield-shaped and minutely bumpy (Ghazanfar & Nasir 1986; Shilong & Rabeler 2001; Sadeghian et al. 2014).



Plants collected during this study and specimens of species from the western Himalaya (housed in DD and BSD herbaria) have 3–7 unequal scarious bracts and smooth seed surface, hence fulfil all the characters of S. umbellata.  The species S. umbellata is a new record for the flora of the Himalaya and India.  The genus Holosteum is present only in Jammu & Kashmir in India and absent in Uttarakhand.







Bittrich, V. (1993). Introduction to Centrospermae, pp. 13–19. In: Kubitzki, K., J.G. Rohwer & V. Bittrich (eds.). The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. Vol. 2. Magnoliid, Hamamelid, and Caryophyllid families. Germany, Springer Science.

Chowdhery, H.J. & B.M. Wadhwa (1984). Flora of Himachal Pradesh. Vol. 1. BSI, Howrah, 340pp.

Edgeworth, M.P. & J.D. Hooker (1874). Caryophyllaceae, pp. 212–246. In: Hooker, J.D. (eds.). The Flora of British India. Vol. 1. L. Reeve, London.

Ghazanfar, S. & Y.J. Nasir (1986). Flora of Pakistan. Vol. 17. Accessed from: http://www.Efloras.Org/Browse.Aspx?Flora_Id=5&Name_Str=Caryophyllaceae.Html. Accessed 28 January 2016.

Grierson, A.J.C. (1984). Caryophyllaceae, pp. 197–216. In: Grierson, A.J.C. & D.G. Long (eds.). Flora of Bhutan. Edinburgh, Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh, UK.

Hajra, P.K., D.M. Verma & G.S. Giri (1996). Material for the Flora of Arunachal Pradesh. Vol. 1. Botanical Survey of India, Hawada, 655pp.

Mabberley, D.J. (2008). MabberleyÕs Plant-book: A Portable Dictionary of Plants, their Classifications, and Uses. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1021pp.

Majumdar, N.C. (1993). Caryophyllaceae, pp. 503–595. In: Sharma, B.D. & N.P. Balakrishnan (eds.). Flora of India. Vol. 2. Calcutta, Botanical Survey of India.

Majumdar, S.C. (2002). Caryophyllaceae. In: Singh, N.P., D.K. Singh & B.P. Uniyal (eds.). Flora of Jammu and Kashmir. Vol. 1. BSI, Kolkata, 900pp.

Morton, J.K. (2005). Stellaria L. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee, editors. Flora of North America North of Mexico.Vol. 5. Availbale from: Accessed: 12 November 2016).

Press, J.R., K.K. Shrestha & D.A. Sutton (2000). Annotated checklist of the flowering plants of Nepal. Natural History Museum Publications. Accessed: 12 October 2015.

Pusalkar, P.K. & D.K. Singh (2012). Flora of Gangotri National Park Western Himalaya, India. Botanial Survey of India, Calcutta, 708pp.

Pusalkar, P.K. & S.K. Srivastava (2015).Stellaria devendrae sp. nov. (Caryophyllaceae) from western Himalaya India. Nordic Journal of Botany 33: 385–388.

Sadeghian, S., S. Zarre & G. Heubl (2014). Systematic implication of seed micromorphology in Arenaria (Caryophyllaceae) and allied genera. Flora 209(9): 513–529.

Sekar, K.C. & S.K. Srivastava (2007). Stellaria pinvalliaca (Caryophyllaceae), a new species from India. Feddes Repertorium 118(1–2): 20–23.

Shilong, C. & R.K. Rabeler (2001). Stellaria L., pp. 11–30. In: Zhengyi, W., P.H. Raven & H. Deyuan (eds.). Flora of China. Vol. 6. Science Press, Beijing & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.

Shishkin, B.K. (1936). Caryophyllaceae Juss., pp. 296–688. In: Shishkin, B.K. (eds.). Flora of the U.S.S.R. Vol. 6: Centrospermae Translated by Dr. N. Landau (Translated from Russian Israel program for scientific Translations) Jerusalem 1970.

Srivastava, R.C. (1998). Flora of Sikkim (Ranunculaceae to Moringaceae). Oriental Enterprises, Dehradun 309pp.

Turczaninow, A.N. (1842). Flora Baicalensi-Dahurica. Bulletin de la Societe Imperiale des Naturalistes deNaturalistes Moscou. 15: 173–174.

Uniyal, B.P., J.R. Sharma, U. Chaudhery & D.K. Singh (2007). Flowering Plants of Uttarakhand (A Checklist). Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh Dehradun, 404pp.