Silene – Campion
Campions of the genus Silene are annual, biennial, or perennial herbs, which are hairless to softly short-hairy and usually glandular on the surface. The leaves are opposite or whorled, stalkless or stalked (often joined around the stem) and entire. The flowers are arranged few to many in open to narrowed or very much-reduced clusters, sometimes in 1-sided elongated clusters due to the suppression of one branch at each node. They have both stamens and pistils or are either male or female, often showy, the shape regular to slightly irregular, with parts attached on the receptacle below the ovary.
The calyx sepals are united, 5-lobed, trumpet-shaped to bell-shaped, often umbilicate (i.e. flattened from above and indented at the point of attachment to the individual flower stalk). They often have 10 or more nerves and are often inflated in fruit. The petals are white to pink, red, or purple, narrow-stalked at the base and usually abruptly flared at the top, and with a well-demarked, entire to several-lobed blade, the edges of the narrowed petal stalk often prolonged upward past the base of the blade to form short basal lobes. The area of juncture of the narrowed petal stalk and blade usually has 2, rarely 4-6, trumpet-shaped or pillowlike upward projecting appendages, but these are sometimes reduced to mere callosities, or are very occasionally absent. There are 10 stamens, which are fused with the petals at the base of the ovary and closely surrounding the (short to prominent) stalk of the ovary (the extension of the floral axis). The styles are usually 3, but not uncommonly 4 and occasionally even 5. The ovary is 1-celled or more or less completely 3-, rarely 4-5-celled. The fruit is a capsule which splits open by usually 6 teeth. The seeds are numerous, with the surface wrinkled to roughened with very small bumps or covered with warty bumps.
The genus consists of over 400 species worldwide, mostly of the N. Temperate Zone, especially abundant in Eurasia. Several are commonly cultivated as annual or perennial border or rock garden plants.
Guide to Identify Presented Species of Genus Silene
S. latifolia – White Campion
Hairy plant, 30-110 cm tall with male or female flowers on separate plants. Flowers are white, large, with deeply divided, curled petals. Leaves opposite, lance-shaped, hairy, up to 10 cm long and 2 cm broad.
S. acaulis – Moss Campion
Low, alpine plant, about 3-6 cm tall, often forming compact cushions. Flowers pink to pale purple, with petals slightly notched, solitary on stems. Leaves mainly basal, linear, stiff, 4-10 mm long, 0.8-1.5 mm broad, hairless.
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