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Spergula arvensis - L.

Common Name Corn Spurrey
Family Caryophyllaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards The seed, and probably also the leaves, contain saponins[105]. Although toxic, these substances are very poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass through without causing harm. They are also broken down by thorough cooking. Saponins are found in many plants, including several that are often used for food, such as certain beans. It is advisable not to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K].
Habitats Arable land, often as a troublesome weed[17].
Range An almost cosmopolitan plant, found in most regions of the world, including Britain.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Moist Soil Full sun
Spergula arvensis Corn Spurrey

© Jaap Uilhoorn
Spergula arvensis Corn Spurrey
© Jaap Uilhoorn


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Spergula arvensis is a ANNUAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in). The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Flies. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.


Spergula arvensis ssp. arvensis. Spergula arvensis ssp. sativa. Spergula sativa


 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves;  Seed.
Edible Uses:

Leaves and young plants[105]. No more details are given. Seed - cooked. It can be dried and ground into a meal then used with flour for making bread etc[2, 61, 106]. The seed is rich in oil[105]. A famine food, it is only used when all else fails[177]. The seed contains saponins so some caution is advised. See the notes above on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.


The plant has been used as a diuretic[240].

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

Prefers a sandy lime-free soil[200] and a sunny position. A calcifuge plant, requiring a neutral to acid soil[17]. The flowers are only open in the morning.


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Seed - sow spring or autumn in situ. Some seed germinates in the autumn in the wild while some germinates in the spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Miranda Hodgson   Fri Feb 18 11:02:49 2005

This plant is listed as being attractive to insects that prey on cabbage pests.

Link: wildlifegardening.co.uk

Jaap   Fri Mar 7 2008

Above all Spergula arvensis was used as a cattle food. there where even cultivated varieties. it's strong characteristics was that it grew on poor sandy soils and at moments that there where no other crops. Mostly sown at the end of july, beginning of august (After the harves of cereals), it yielded a single fresh cut of cattle food after about 8 till 10 weeks. also dried for hey. after harvest, in about october, the soil was prepared for wintercrops. crop was said to be very beneficial for the quality of milk. nowadays almost extinct. seeds are sometimes mixed with grass seeds. Spurrey acts as a cover crop for grasses as it germinates and grows very rapidly, the grass will later outcompete the spurrey. in this sense also usefull to prevent erosion.

carline   Tue Oct 14 2008

sir, i want the detail of spergula arvensis nutritional value.including all the minerals and vitamins.this crop is consumed as greens in hill areas of tamilnadu.

Jaap   Thu Nov 13 2008

Hello Carline, I Have to disappoint you. although there are several older description on the cultivation of spergula arvensis, i have seen nothing on nutritional values. There are almost no details about yields. I have seen a few figures on kg/ha but even they show quite large differences. I am talking about Holland/belgium. It was really a crop of the very poor soils. It dissapeared as a foddercrop in about the 1960s. This due to imported cattle food and artificial fertilizer which gave the advantage to other fodder crops. interesting though that it's grown as far as Tamilnadu. Consumed as greens means by cattle or by men? Jaap

caroline   Thu Dec 11 2008

sir,thanks for ur reply. this is consumed largely by men and cattle and also very popular green in nilgri district of tamilnadu. now i am analysing the nutrient content. for reference i asked nutritional value information.

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