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Small-flowered Catchfly

Silene gallica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
45 centimetres tall
Beaches, cliffs, fields, gardens, grassland, sand dunes, sea cliffs, seaside, walls, wasteland.

White, 5 petals
Flowers are yellowish-white or pink. The tips of the petals are slightly notched. Pollinated by bees, butterflies and moths.
The fruit is a capsule whose seeds ripen from July to October.
A stickily hairy annual flower. The leaves are broadly lance-shaped and pointed. The leaves are in opposite pairs up the stems. Each leaf measure up to 3.5cm in length. The variety of Small-flowered Catchfly (Silene gallica quinquevulnera) has red blotched flowers but is much less common.
Other Names:
Common Campion, Common Catchfly, English Catchfly, Five-wound Catchfly, Windmill Pink.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Silene gallica, also known as common campion or five-wound catchfly, is a species of flowering plant in the carnation family. It is native to Europe and has been introduced to other parts of the world as a weed. The plant is known for its small, pink or white flowers and hairy leaves. It grows well in a variety of habitats, including fields, gardens, and waste areas. Silene gallica 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.


Small-flowered Catchfly, also known as Silene gallica, is a beautiful and unique wildflower species that is native to Europe and Asia. It is part of the Caryophyllaceae family and is widely recognized for its charming and delicate appearance.

This plant is a hardy perennial and can grow up to a height of 30 cm. It produces small and delicate white or pink flowers that are arranged in clusters on tall, slender stems. The flowers have five petals and are surrounded by green leaves that are lance-shaped and toothed. The plant is in bloom from June to August, providing a wonderful display of color during the summer months.

Silene gallica is an excellent choice for gardeners who are looking to create a natural, wildflower garden. It grows well in sunny and well-drained soils and is a good choice for planting in rock gardens, wildflower meadows, or as a naturalized planting along paths or roadsides. This plant is also suitable for planting in containers, making it a great option for those with limited garden space.

In addition to its beautiful appearance, Silene gallica is also highly valued for its importance in the ecosystem. It is a food source for several species of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and moths, and is an important nectar source for these insects. This, in turn, makes it an important contributor to the food chain and helps to support the health of the local ecosystem.

Despite its many benefits, Silene gallica is considered to be a threatened species in some regions due to habitat loss and degradation. Gardeners who are interested in supporting the preservation of this beautiful plant can do so by planting it in their gardens, providing a suitable habitat for pollinators, and reducing the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

Silene gallica is a beautiful and unique wildflower species that is well worth growing in any garden. With its charming appearance, importance to the ecosystem, and ease of cultivation, this plant is an excellent choice for those who are looking to create a natural, wildflower garden or to support the preservation of threatened species.

Small-flowered Catchfly, Silene gallica, is not only a beautiful plant, but it also has a rich history and cultural significance. In traditional European folklore, this plant was believed to have magical properties and was often used in love potions and spells. It was also used for medicinal purposes, with the leaves and roots being used to treat various ailments such as wounds and digestive problems.

In addition to its cultural significance, Silene gallica is also an important plant species for scientific research. It is a model organism for studying plant-insect interactions and has been used in numerous studies to understand the mechanisms behind plant defense against herbivores. The plant produces a sticky secretion on its stem, which serves as a deterrent to herbivores and helps to protect it from being eaten. This secretion is also used as a trap for insects, which become stuck and unable to escape, providing a food source for the plant.

Silene gallica is also of great value to botanists and plant enthusiasts. It is a fascinating plant to study and can provide a wealth of information about the evolution of plant-insect interactions and plant defense mechanisms. Gardeners who are interested in growing this plant can also learn a great deal about its ecology, growth habits, and propagation techniques.

Small-flowered Catchfly, Silene gallica, is a truly fascinating and versatile plant species that is of great value to scientists, gardeners, and the environment. Whether you are interested in its cultural significance, scientific importance, or simply its beauty, this plant is sure to capture your attention and provide endless hours of enjoyment.

One of the best things about Silene gallica is how easy it is to care for. This plant is highly adaptable and can thrive in a wide range of growing conditions. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. If you are planting it in your garden, be sure to choose a spot that provides plenty of sunlight and good drainage to ensure optimal growth and flowering.

When it comes to watering, Silene gallica is quite drought tolerant and can survive periods of dryness. However, it is important to water it regularly during prolonged dry spells to ensure that the plant remains healthy. It is also a good idea to mulch the soil around the plant to conserve moisture and suppress weeds.

This plant is also very low maintenance and does not require much pruning or upkeep. However, if you are growing it in your garden, it is a good idea to remove any dead or damaged stems and leaves to keep the plant looking its best. Additionally, it is a good idea to divide the clumps every few years to prevent overcrowding and to maintain the health of the plant.

Silene gallica is also very easy to propagate, making it an excellent choice for gardeners who are looking to expand their wildflower garden. You can propagate it from seed, which is readily available from garden centers and online retailers. Simply scatter the seeds over a prepared bed of soil, cover them lightly with soil, and water well. Alternatively, you can propagate it from cuttings taken from new growth in the spring or summer. Simply take a cutting from the plant, remove the leaves from the bottom half, dip the cut end into rooting hormone, and plant it in a pot filled with potting mix.

In conclusion, Silene gallica is a highly adaptable and low maintenance wildflower that is easy to grow and care for. Whether you are planting it in your garden, using it in a rock garden, or incorporating it into a wildflower meadow, this plant is sure to provide a beautiful display of delicate flowers that will delight you for years to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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