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Starry Campion Silene stellata


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Starry Campion - flower closeup
credit: Jason Hollinger/CCSA

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Alternate name: Widow's-frill

Family: Caryophyllaceae, Carnation view all from this family

Description Deeply fringed, 5-petaled white flowers clustered atop tall slender stalks, with leaves mostly in whorls of 4.
Habit: native perennial herb; several stems, erect, gummy, loosely branched; taprooted.
Height: 4-48 in (0.1-1.2 m) or more
Leaf: whorled, lanceolate, smooth, 1-4 in (25-100 mm) long, 0.15-1.5 in (4-40 mm) wide.
Flower: white, 5-parted, 0.75 in (18 mm) wide; with wide, deeply fringed or many-lobed petals, and sepals forming a bell-shaped tube; held in terminal cluster, and singly along stem; sometimes closing in bright sunlight.
Fruit: capsule, ovoid, light green becoming tan, 3 or 6-toothed.

Flower May to September.

Flower May - August

Habitat Open sites: savannas, rich deciduous woods, river flats, tall-grass prairies, clearings; to 4200 ft (1300 m); also cultivated as an ornamental.

Range Eastern and central U.S., from Vermont and Massachusets, south to Georgia, west to Texas, north to North Dakota. Protected in Connecticut and Michigan; extinct in Rhode Island.

Discussion Also known as widow's frill. Two varieties have been suggested. This delicate wildflower is pollinated by butterflies and many kinds of moths. It is often grown in wildflower gardens.

Exposure Preference Shade to partial shade.

Native Distribution Rhode Island to Minnesota, s. to Georgia, Arkansas, Oklahoma & e. Texas

Site Preference Dry, upland woods; wooded slopes

Soil Preference Rich soils. pH 5-7.