Caryophyllaceae - Pink Family
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The scientific name for the Pink Family, Caryophyllaceae, is derived from a Greek word
that means "carnation", the showiest member of the family. It's a moderately large family of about 2000 species and 80 genera, found mostly throughout the north temperate zone, especially in northern Mediterranean countries, although it's also well represented in our Northwest. Typically, the plants in the pink family have narrow, opposed leaves that originate from swollen nodes along the stem. Ornamental plants and cut flowers, especially species of Dianthus (carnations, sweet william, etc.), have considerable economic importance.
The flowers of the Pink family have 5 sepals, free from one another or united into a calyx, petals are usually 5, each often with a slender portion at base and fringed or toothed at the ends. Stamens are 5 or 10 and pistils are 1 to 5. All these parts are attached at the base of the ovary. The flowers are blooming singly or in a branched or forked cluster. Leaves are opposite, simple, widely lance-shaped to very narrow, thread-like. The fruit is usually a capsule.

 
 
General Guide to Identify Species of the Pink Family
PETALS LARGE, SHOWY, DEEPLY SPLIT, SEPALS JOINED
Silene latifolia ssp. alba - White Campion
Tall, hairy plant with male or female flowers.
Flowers are white, large, with deeply divided, curled petals.
Leaves are opposite, widely lance-shaped, hairy.
PETALS SHOWY, BROAD AT TIP, SEPALS JOINED. SMALL, ALPINE PLANT
Silene acaulis - Moss Campion
Low, alpine plant, often forming compact cushions.
Flowers pink to pale purple, with petals slightly notched, solitary on stems.
Leaves mainly basal, linear, stiff.
PETALS LARGE, SHOWY, BROAD AT TIP, SEPALS JOINED. TALLER PLANTS
Saponaria officinalis - Soapwort
40-90 cm tall, hairless, very leafy, in colonies. Roadsides, disturbed areas.
Flowers white to pink, 2-3 cm wide, fragrant, with 5 broad, petals, often double.
Leaves opposite, mostly lanceolate, 4-10 cm long, as many as 20 pairs.
PETALS BROAD, ROUNDED AND SPLIT. SEPALS SEPARATE

Cerastium fontanum - Common Chickweed
Loosely tufted herb with long hairs. New, leafed shoots growing from bases.
Flowers small, white, with petals only slightly longer than the sepals.
Leaves egg-shaped, hairy, with blunt tips.

PETALS NARROW, POINTED, DEEPLY SPLIT IN HALF. SEPALS SEPARATE
Stellaria longipes - Long-stalked Starwort
Small, hairless herb, slender, growing in small tufts at higher elevations.
Flowers white, about 1 cm wide, petals longer than sepals, on long stalks.
Leaves are bluish-grey, stiff, stalkless, lance-shaped to linear, pointed.
Stellaria media - Common Chickweed or Common Starwort
Trailing, matted plant, common garden weed, widespread on disturbed sites.
Flowers small, white, several clustered on stem tops, sepals hairy.
Leaves juicy green, broadly egg-shaped, short-stalked.
PETALS ROUNDED, NOT DIVIDED. SEPALS SEPARATE
Arenaria serpyllifolia - Thymeleaf Sandwort
Low-growing, branching, delicate herb, growing on dry or sandy ground.
Flowers small, white. Sepals are pointed, 3-4 mm long, longer than petals.
Leaves short, lance- to egg-shaped, stalkless, without hairs on edges.
Minuartia nuttallii - Nuttall's Sandwort
Matted plant, 3-10 cm tall, glandular-hairy. Sagebrush hills to alpine slopes.
Flowers white, 10-15 mm wide, on spreading stalks. Petals broad-lanceolate.
Leaves 5-10 mm long, linear- to awl- or narrowly needle-shaped, 3-nerved.
Alphabetical listing with links to presented species of the Pink family:
     
Scientific Name English Name Swedish Name
 

 

 
Arenaria
Cerastium
Minuartia
Saponaria
Silene
Stellaria
Sandwort
Field Chickweed
Sandwort
Soapwort
Campion
Starwort
Narvar
Arvar
Nörlar
-
Såpnejlikor
Glimmar
Stjärnblommor
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