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Maltese Cross Lychnis chalcedonica


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Maltese Cross
credit: Qwertzy2/CCSA

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Family: Caryophyllaceae, Carnation view all from this family

Description This coarse-textured
Habit: introduced perennial herb; erect, rhizomatous.
Height: 18-40 in (45-100 cm)
Leaf: opposite, ovate to lanceolate (basal leaves sometimes spatulate), clasping, 2-5 in (5-12.5 cm) long, 1-2.5 in (2.5-6 cm) wide.
Flower: red to orange-red (rarely white or pink), 5-parted, 0.4-0.75 in (10-18 mm) wide or more, petals 2-lobed; in crowded flat terminal cluster of 10-50 flowerheads.
Fruit: ovate, to 0.4 in (10 mm) long; 5 teeth when open.

Flower June to August.

Habitat Roadsides, waste places, open woodlands; to 1000 ft (300 m); widely cultivated as an ornamental.

Range Native to Russia, introduced as an ornamental, escaped and naturalized in northern North America, from Quebec south to Pennsylvania, west to Illinois, Idaho, and Alberta; also found in Alaska.

Discussion Also known as scarlet lychnis, jerusalem cross. The latin name Silene chalcedonica is also used.