Lychnis viscaria
Common Name: clammy campion
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Native Range: Europe, Asia
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Reddish-purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil

Culture

Best grown in moderately fertile, well-drained soils with even moisture in full sun to part shade. Full sun works best in the north, but part shade is preferred in the south. Sharp soil drainage is essential. Tolerates poor soils. Tolerates some drought. Plants are typically short-lived (3-4 years). Plants may self-seed in the garden in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Lychnis viscaria is a reddish-purple flowered catchfly that is native to sandy meadows, dry hillside ridges, lowlands, clearings and roadsides from Europe to western Asia. From tufts of grass-like foliage (to 5" tall) rise flowering stalks (to 12-18" tall) bearing star-shaped magenta flowers (calyx to 1/2" long) in 3-6 flowered panicles which bloom from late spring to early summer. Each flower stalk is sticky (viscous) just below the flower panicle and along the internodes, thus accounting for the specific epithet and common name. Sticky stems trap insects attempting to reach the flowers.

A number of authorities (e.g., Flora of North America) now include this plant in the genus Silene as Silene viscaria.

Genus name comes from the classical name said to be derived from the Greek word lychnos meaning a lamp possibly referring to the ancient use of leaves of a woolly species for wicks.

Specific epithet means sticky.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for slugs and snails.

Garden Uses

Best grown in rock gardens where it can bake in the sun. Also effective in dry border areas or a dry location in a cottage garden.