White Campion

Scientific Name: Silene alba
Family Name: Caryophyllaceae

Flower: 1 in. (2.5 cm.) wide, white, five petaled flower, growing from a balloon like structure with many veins and five sharp teeth. The petals all have a deep notch in them that give the flower the appearance of having ten petals.

Leaf: 1.5 – 4 in. (4 – 10 cm.) opposite, ovate, hairy leaves.

Plant: 1 – 3 ft. (30 – 90 cm.) tall, hairy plant. When it is young, White
Campion grows from a fuzzy basal rosette.

Identifying Characteristics: : There are several plants with flowers similar to those of White Campion, but of a slightly different color, so the white flower is an essential identifying characteristic. Another important characteristic is the hairiness of both the stem and the leaves.

Location: We found White Campion in the waste area behind the Mount Peake Cemetery near Brandeis University in Waltham. We subsequently saw it at Cold Spring Park in Newton, MA.

History and Comments: White Campion is native to Europe, and during colonial times, it was introduced from European crop seed or ship ballast, and it is now considered a weed. It suffers much confusion over scientific name, also being called Lychnis alba and Silene latifolia. White Campion has separate male and female plants with slightly different flowers on each, but they can be distinguished. The female flower has twice as many veins on its balloon like stem as the male flower.

    Unless otherwise specified, all text, photographs, and drawings are Copyright (c) by Shu-Yee Chen and Deborah Hamer 2003. No part of this page may be reproduced without prior written consent of the authors.