Annual herb with a taproot 30 cm - 0.8 m tall Stem: densely hairy. Leaves: opposite, stalkless above, hairy-stalked below, 3 - 8 cm long, 0.5 - 3.5 cm wide, lance-shaped to reverse lance-shaped, densely hairy. Inflorescence: a forking (dichotomous) cluster of several flowers (raceme), subtended by bracts. Flowers: white to reddish. Stalk upright. Stamens ten. Styles three. Sepals: fused at the base into a narrow tube (calyx). Calyx tube 1 - 1.5 cm long, ten-veined (veins hairy), with five short lobes. Petals: five, white to reddish, 5 - 9 mm long, diamond-shaped to triangular, narrowly clawed, deeply two-lobed. Fruit: a dehiscent capsule, three-chambered. Seeds about 1 mm wide, finely wrinkled.
Similar species: No information at this time.
Flowering: late June to early August
Habitat and ecology: Introduced from Europe. Formerly cultivated as a garden flower. An occasional escape as a garden weed. Has also been found in a roadside ditch.
Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native
Etymology: Silene probably comes from the Greek word sialon, meaning saliva, referring to the sticky secretion on many of these plants. It may also have come from the word seilenos, referable to Silenus-a foam-covered, drunken character in Greek Mythology. Dichotoma means "forked or divided in pairs."
Strongly hirsute annual 3-8 dm; lvs lanceolate to oblanceolate, 3-8 cm נ3-35 mm, the lower usually ciliate-petiolate, the upper sessile; infl usually one or more times dichotomous, with leafy-bracteate, monochasial, raceme-like branches; fls mostly perfect; cal narrowly tubular, 10-15 mm, the 10 green nerves hirsute; pet white to reddish, without auricles, the appendages truncate, 0.2 mm, the blade rhombic-cuneate, 5-9 mm, deeply 2-lobed; stamens exsert (or vestigial); carpophore 2-4 mm; fr 3-locular; seeds 1-1.3 mm wide, finely rugose; 2n=24. Native of Eurasia, widespread as a weed in the U.S. Summer.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.