Silene latifolia

Silene latifolia
Silene latifolia 9646.JPG
Scientific classification edit
S. latifolia
Binomial name
Silene latifolia
  • Lychnis alba Mill.
  • Melandrium album (Mill.) Garcke
  • Melandrium dioicum subsp. album (Mill.) D.Löve
  • Silene alba (Mill.) E.H.L.Krause non Muhl. ex Rohrb.
  • Lychnis pratensis Rafn
  • Silene pratensis (Rafn) Godr.
  • Lychnis vespertina Sibth.
  • Melandrium vespertinum (Sibth.) Fr.

Silene latifolia subsp. alba (formerly Melandrium album), the white campion is a dioecious flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae, native to most of Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is a herbaceous annual, occasionally biennial or a short-lived perennial plant, growing to between 40–80 centimetres tall. It is also known in the US as bladder campion[2] but should not be confused with Silene vulgaris, which is more generally called bladder campion.

The appearance depends on the age of the plant; when young they form a basal rosette of oval to lanceolate leaves 4–10 cm long, and when they get older, forked stems grow from these, with leaves in opposite pairs. The flowers grow in clusters at the tops of the stems, 2.5–3 cm diameter, with a distinctive inflated calyx and five white petals, each petal deeply notched; flowering lasts from late spring to early autumn. The entire plant is densely hairy. Occasional plants with pink flowers are usually hybrids with red campion (Silene dioica).

Habitat and occurrence

White campion grows in most open habitats, particularly wasteland and fields, most commonly on neutral to alkaline soils. Despite the wide array of conditions in which campion can thrive, it prefers sunny areas that have rich and well-drained soil.[3] An example ecoregion of occurrence is in the Sarmatic mixed forests.[4]

It is also named the Grave Flower or Flower of the Dead in parts of England as they are seen often growing on gravesites and around tombstones.

It is naturalised in North America, being found in most of the United States, the greatest concentrations of the plant can be found in the north-central and northeastern sections of the country.[5] S. latifolia is thought to have arrived in North America as a component of ship ballast.

Inbreeding avoidance

In S. latifolia, outbred male offspring were found to sire significantly more progeny than inbred male offspring.[6] This study indicated the occurrence of inbreeding depression in male plants under natural conditions. In female plants, inbreeding depression significantly affects vegetative growth, age at first flowering and total fitness.[7]

Post-pollination selection occurs in S. latifolia.[7] After multiple-donor pollination, it was found that pollen or embryo selection likely reduces the occurrence of inbred progeny.[7]

Use among Native Americans

The Ojibwa use an infusion of the alba subspecies as a medicine.[8]

Susceptibility to disease

Silene latifolia is afflicted by the fungal pathogen Microbotryum violaceum, which acts as a sterilizing sexually transmitted infection in this species.


  1. ^ "Plants Of the World Online".
  2. ^ "Silene latifolia". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  3. ^ Connecticut Botanical Society
  4. ^ C.Michael Hogan. 2011. "Sarmatic mixed forests". Topic ed. Sidney Draggan. Ed.-in-chief Cutler J.Cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment
  5. ^ Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal and Joseph M. Ditomaso, Weeds of The Northeast, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997), Pp. 198-199
  6. ^ Austerlitz F, Gleiser G, Teixeira S, Bernasconi G (2012). "The effects of inbreeding, genetic dissimilarity and phenotype on male reproductive success in a dioecious plant". Proc. Biol. Sci. 279 (1726): 91–100. doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.0652. PMC 3223646. PMID 21561968.
  7. ^ a b c Teixeira S, Foerster K, Bernasconi G (2009). "Evidence for inbreeding depression and post-pollination selection against inbreeding in the dioecious plant Silene latifolia". Heredity (Edinb). 102 (2): 101–12. doi:10.1038/hdy.2008.86. PMID 18698334.
  8. ^ Smith, Huron H. 1932 Ethnobotany of the Ojibwe Indians. Bulletin of the Public Museum of Milwaukee 4:327-525 (p. 361)

Media files used on this page

Ackerpflanze mit weißen Blüten.JPG
Author/Creator: 4028mdk09, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Weiße Lichtnelke, Silene latifolia, fotografiert am Rand eines Ackers im nördlichen Baden-Württemberg (Deutschland)
Silene latifolia 9646.JPG
Author/Creator: Walter Siegmund (talk), Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Bladder Campion, White Campion