By Mary Reid Barrow
Small pink petaled flowers with star-like eyes and red eyeliner against a splash of white bloom like dainty ballerinas among the marsh grasses along the future kayak launch trail at Pleasure House Point.
Called marsh pinks, the little native wildflowers look out of place growing in the middle of tough salt meadow hay along the hot sandy trail. But they are right where they belong dancing in the humid sea breeze. The marsh denizens brighten up the landscape all around.
Even the most hardened, old salt fisherman couldn’t help but stop and look at the marsh pinks. Like dainty ballerinas, marsh pinks also are tough, but just don’t look it. Not quite two inches across, they bloom from July to October in full sun whether the sand is wet or dry and the water is salt or brackish.
The flowers can range from almost white to a startling pink, always with their unusual eyed center. Their slender stems and leaves are hidden among the grasses of the salt meadow hay.
Marsh pinks aren’t the only pretty bloomers along the trails at Pleasure House Point, but these pretties would stand out even in the most well -tended garden. This year, marsh pinks seem to be fuller and more vibrant than usual at Pleasure House Point, especially along the kayak trail.
The plant’s scientific name is S. Stellaris. Stellaris is Latin for star-like. It’s easy to see how an early botanist came up with that name for the stellar marsh pink!
It makes me wonder how we fell into using the unimaginative common name of marsh pink as the years wore on. Marsh star is more like it.