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What is Sandwort?

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  • Written By: Christian Petersen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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Sandwort is the common name of any one of a large group of species of mostly low-growing herbaceous plants belonging primarily to the genus Arenaria. Sandwort species are found all over the world in many different climes and terrain types, including sandy coastal margins, high meadows, alpine and sub-alpine conditions. Many species of this group are used as ornamental and landscape plants and are favored for their attractive foliage and flowers. Some sandwort species like Arenaria rubra are used for medicinal purposes.

Sometimes other species of the related genera Minuartia and Moehringia are also called sandworts, creating confusion. Many of these species share similar characteristics, including smallish shallow trumpet-shaped white flowers, glossy green leaves and a low growth habit. Alpine or Twinflower sandwort (Minuartia obtusiloba)for example grows in high elevations all over the western United States on mountain tundra.

One of the most common sandworts is Mountain sandwort (Arenaria Montana). This species is commonly used for landscape applications. Its tendency to form a carpet-like covering that blooms with large numbers of attractive white flowers makes it a favorite of gardeners. Other species used in rock gardens and for ground cover include creeping, purplish, Norwegian, compact and prickly sandworts.

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Sandwort makes good subjects for these types of applications because they are adapted to living in harsh conditions, which allows them to grow with a relatively low level of care and attention. They will tolerate rocky, sandy and other poor soils and still thrive. They are called cushion plants because they will eventually form a thick cushion of cover which helps insulate their own roots and conserve moisture. They are very hardy and drought tolerant.

Many wort plants are used for medicinal purposes, and some of the sandworts are included in this group. Arenaria Rubra, also known as common sandwort, sandspurry and sabline rouge is sometimes used as a diuretic. This helps to increase urine volume and can help in the treatment of urinary and kidney ailments. Pregnant women should not take sandwort.

This and other herbal medicines and remedies are generally not regulated by government agencies and no scientific studies or other evidence exists to confirm its usefulness as a diuretic. While there are no known side effects associated with sandwort, not all herbal medications are safe for everyone. Before taking sandwort or any other herbal medicine consult a doctor to determine its suitability and safety.

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