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Sticky Catchfly

Silene viscaria

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, mountains, wasteland.

Pink, 5 petals
Clusters of pinkish-purple, deeply notched flowers. Flowers are about 2cm in diameter.
A long, 5-parted capsule, up to 1cm in length.
A mat-forming perennial with opposite, narrow, dark green, pointed leaves. Stalkless. The erect stem is sticky.
Other Names:
Clammy Campion, Red Campion, Red German Catchfly.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Silene viscaria, also known as sticky catchfly or red campion, is a species of flowering plant in the carnation family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and has been introduced to other parts of the world as a weed. The plant is known for its small, red flowers and hairy leaves. It grows well in a variety of habitats, including fields, gardens, and waste areas. Silene viscaria is a herbaceous plant that can grow up to 1 meter in height. It is commonly found in disturbed areas and is considered an invasive weed in some areas. The plant is toxic to livestock, and can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.


Sticky Catchfly (Silene viscaria) is a beautiful and unique flowering plant native to Europe and Asia. This plant is known for its stunning, delicate flowers and its unusual sticky leaves, which make it a fascinating addition to any garden.

The sticky catchfly plant grows to a height of 30-60 cm and has a single stem with many branches. The leaves of the plant are bright green, lance-shaped, and covered in tiny hairs that secrete a sticky substance. This substance helps to trap insects, hence the name “sticky catchfly”.

The flowers of the sticky catchfly are small and star-shaped, ranging in color from white to pink or red. They bloom in the summer and are a popular source of nectar for bees and butterflies. The flowers are held in clusters at the end of each branch and are quite striking, making the plant a great choice for use in flower beds or as a border plant.

In addition to its ornamental value, the sticky catchfly is also of great ecological importance. The plant provides a habitat for many insects, including some species of butterflies, bees, and beetles, as well as providing food for small mammals like squirrels and rabbits.

The sticky catchfly is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow and care for. It is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and can thrive in full sun or partial shade. The plant is also drought-resistant and can handle periods of dry weather with ease.

The sticky catchfly is a unique and attractive plant that is well worth adding to your garden. With its delicate flowers, sticky leaves, and ecological importance, it is a must-have for anyone who loves to grow and enjoy plants.

Propagation of the sticky catchfly is also relatively simple, making it a great plant for those looking to expand their garden or share with friends and family. You can propagate the plant from seeds or from cuttings. When propagating from seeds, it is best to sow them in the spring or early summer. If you prefer to propagate from cuttings, you can do so in the summer or fall by taking a cutting of the stem and planting it in a pot of moist soil. With proper care and attention, the cuttings will root and develop into new plants in a few weeks.

When it comes to caring for your sticky catchfly, it is important to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. The plant also prefers well-draining soil to avoid root rot. As with most plants, it is also important to fertilize the sticky catchfly regularly to ensure optimal growth and flowering. A balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, can be applied once a month during the growing season.

In terms of pests and diseases, the sticky catchfly is relatively low maintenance. However, it is susceptible to powdery mildew, a fungal disease that can cause the leaves to become covered in a white powdery substance. To prevent this, make sure to plant the sticky catchfly in an area with good air circulation and avoid overwatering the soil.

In addition to its ornamental and ecological benefits, the sticky catchfly also has some cultural and historical significance. The plant has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, particularly in traditional European and Asian medicine. The leaves and stems of the plant have been used to treat a variety of ailments, such as skin irritations, digestive issues, and respiratory problems.

In some cultures, the sticky catchfly is also associated with love and romance. It is believed that the sticky leaves symbolize the strength of love, and that the delicate flowers represent the fragility of a relationship. As such, the plant is often given as a gift to express love and affection.

When planting the sticky catchfly in your garden, it is important to choose a location that provides adequate sunlight and well-draining soil. The plant is also relatively drought-resistant, so it can be a good choice for gardens in areas with hot, dry summers. To keep the sticky catchfly looking its best, be sure to deadhead the spent flowers regularly to encourage new blooms and keep the plant tidy.

In conclusion, the sticky catchfly is a versatile and fascinating plant that has something to offer for everyone. From its ornamental beauty to its cultural and historical significance, this plant is a great choice for anyone looking to add a touch of nature to their garden. So why not consider adding a sticky catchfly to your flower bed today and enjoy the benefits of this beautiful and unique plant for years to come!

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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