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Image of Knobbley's Bark

Red Campion
Silene dioica

Photo of a Red Campion FlowerThe plant has non-flowering shoots, and upright flowering stems.

NAME
Silenus, the drunken, merry god of the woodlands in Greek mythology, gave his name to Silene dioica, the Red Campion.
The second part of its scientific name, dioica, means 'two houses', and refers to the fact that each Red Campion plant has flowers of one sex only, so that two plants are needed to make seed. Female flowers have no stamens, while male flowers have only a small, non-functioning ovary.

HABITAT
Abundant in most areas of Britain, Red Campion is usually found on rich soils at the edges of woods or in hedgerows. It will also establish itself on screes and cliff edges.

DESCRIPTION GENERAL
Type - perennial
Height - 200-900mm
Flowers - May-June

FLOWERS CLOSE UP
Close up of top of Red Campion FlowerPetals - 5, deeply lobed with stalk-like base and have an inner ring of white flaps
Colour - rose-pink, rarely white
Type - open during day, scentless
Size - 18-25mm
Bracts - present
Flowers - numerous, branched head at stem-tip. Male and female flowers on different plants.


Stamens - male with 10
Stigmas - female with 5
Sepals - 5, 120-175mm, joined into tube with pointed teeth
Ovary - 1, 1-celled

Photo of top of Flower and stalk, side on.STEMS, LEAVES and ROOTS

Stem - turning upright
Hairs - soft, may be sticky above
Stipules - absent

Leaves - paired on opposite sides of stem, 4-10mm oval or oblong, pointed, edge unbroken. Lower leaves have long, winged stalks.

Root - slender, creeping stock

FRUIT
Type - 1, capsule, broad opening by 10 curled back teeth, oval
Size - 10-15mm
Seeds - many, black, kidney-shaped, rough with tiny outgrowths.

 

 

OTHER INFORMATION
When White Campion grows along side Red Campion it will often hybridise, the resulting cross bears pink flowers as might be expected. Unlike many hybrids, the plant is completely fertile and will often hybridise with members of the parent strains. This is called backcrossing. When it occurs, all shades of colour from red through pink to pure white can be found, and it is often difficult to tell which plants are the original red and white campions.

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