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Moss Campion

Silene acaulis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
10 centimetres tall
Cliffs, meadows, mountains, rocky places.

Pink, 5 petals
Rose pink flowers with deeply notched petals. Flowers measure 10 to 12mm in diameter. 10 stamens. Insect pollinated.
A long capsule, up to 1cm long. It seeds ripen in August and September.
A compact, low-growing, cushion-like perennial flower. The leaves are tiny and pointed. The bright green leaves are stalkless and in opposite pairs along the stems.
Other Names:
Compass Plant, Cushion Pink, Dwarf Catchfly, Moss Pink.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Silene acaulis, also known as moss campion or cushion pink, is a species of flowering plant in the carnation family. It is native to the Arctic and alpine regions of Europe, Asia, and North America, and is widely distributed in other parts of the world. The plant is known for its small, pink or white flowers and hairy leaves. It grows well in rocky or gravelly soils and is often found in alpine meadows and cliffs. Silene acaulis is a low-growing plant that forms a mat-like shape and can spread to form large clumps. It is commonly cultivated as an ornamental plant and is valued for its attractive flowers and ability to thrive in difficult growing conditions. The plant is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.


Moss Campion (Silene acaulis) is a small and charming flower that is native to the arctic and alpine regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. This species of flowering plant is known for its delicate appearance, cushion-like growth habit, and its ability to thrive in harsh, cold environments.

Moss Campion grows in clumps or mats and can reach up to 5 cm in height. Its stems are covered in dense, hairy foliage, which acts as an insulating layer to help protect the plant from extreme temperatures. The tiny, star-shaped flowers of Moss Campion are usually pink or white in color and bloom from June to September.

In the wild, Moss Campion grows in rocky outcrops, meadows, and alpine tundra. It is well adapted to life in harsh environments, as it has a deep taproot that helps it to find moisture in the soil and a thick layer of foliage that protects it from the wind and cold. Additionally, the plant is able to photosynthesize at lower temperatures than other plants, allowing it to survive in colder climates.

Moss Campion is a hardy plant that can tolerate drought, salt spray, and low levels of light. It is also resistant to disease and pests, making it an ideal choice for gardeners who are looking for a low-maintenance, yet attractive, groundcover. In a garden setting, Moss Campion is best grown in full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.

In addition to its ornamental value, Moss Campion also has cultural significance in some regions. In Scandinavia, it is said to bring good luck and prosperity to those who grow it. In other parts of Europe, it is used as a traditional herbal remedy for various ailments, including respiratory problems, digestive issues, and skin problems.

Moss Campion is a beautiful and hardy flowering plant that is well-suited to life in harsh, cold environments. Its delicate appearance, low-maintenance requirements, and cultural significance make it an excellent choice for gardeners and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Whether grown in the wild or in a garden setting, Moss Campion is sure to delight with its beauty and resilience.

Aside from its ornamental and cultural value, Moss Campion is also important to local ecosystems. The flowers of Moss Campion provide a valuable source of nectar and pollen for a variety of insects, including bees, butterflies, and moths. These insects are in turn important pollinators, helping to maintain the health of local plant populations and the surrounding ecosystem.

Furthermore, Moss Campion is an important food source for various animals, including the Arctic hare and the ptarmigan, a type of grouse that lives in arctic and alpine regions. The dense, cushion-like growth habit of Moss Campion provides these animals with shelter from the wind and cold, and its deep taproot makes it a valuable source of food during the harsh winter months.

It is also worth noting that Moss Campion is considered an indicator species for the health of arctic and alpine ecosystems. The presence of this plant species can indicate that the surrounding environment is healthy, with good soil quality and an appropriate moisture level. Conversely, a decline in the population of Moss Campion can indicate environmental stress, such as soil degradation, climate change, or overgrazing by livestock.

Moss Campion is much more than just a beautiful and hardy flowering plant. It is an important component of local ecosystems, providing food and shelter for wildlife, acting as a pollinator for other plant species, and serving as an indicator of the health of arctic and alpine environments. By appreciating and preserving this species, we can help to ensure the health and resilience of these fragile ecosystems for future generations.

Another interesting aspect of Moss Campion is its ability to adapt to its surroundings. This plant is known to be highly variable in terms of its growth habit, flower color, and size, depending on the environmental conditions in which it grows. For example, plants growing in harsh, windy environments may be shorter and have more compact foliage compared to those growing in more sheltered areas.

Additionally, the color of the flowers may also vary based on the location and surrounding vegetation. For example, plants growing in areas with high levels of atmospheric nitrogen may produce larger and more vibrant flowers, while those growing in areas with low levels of nitrogen may have smaller and paler flowers. This adaptability and variability make Moss Campion a fascinating species for botanists and ecologists to study.

Another important characteristic of Moss Campion is its resilience. This species has a long lifespan, with some plants living for over a hundred years. In addition, it is able to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, from extreme cold to high levels of exposure to ultraviolet radiation. This resilience, combined with its ability to quickly colonize new areas, makes Moss Campion an important contributor to the stability and diversity of arctic and alpine ecosystems.

However, despite its hardiness and resilience, Moss Campion is not immune to environmental threats. Like many other species of arctic and alpine flora, it is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as increased temperatures, melting permafrost, and changes in precipitation patterns. Conservation efforts are needed to ensure the preservation of this species and the ecosystems it is a part of.

In conclusion, Moss Campion is a remarkable species with a range of fascinating adaptations and characteristics. From its cushion-like growth habit and delicate flowers, to its ability to adapt to its surroundings and resilience in the face of environmental stress, this plant is an important contributor to arctic and alpine ecosystems and a valuable subject of study for botanists and ecologists alike.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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