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Spanish Catchfly

Silene otites

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.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
80 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, heathland, roadsides, wasteland.

Yellow, 5 petals
The inflorescence is a spike with whorled clusters. The flowers themselves are pale yellowish-green with unnotched petals. Flowers measure just 3 to 4mm in size. The petals are narrow and tongue-shaped.
The fruit is a capsule.
A biennial or short-lived perennial with dark green leaves, broadest towards the tip. The leaves are mainly in a basal rosette. Leaves are sparsely hairy.
Other Names:
Breckland Catchfly, Ear-leaved Catchfly, White Campion.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Silene otites, also known as ear-leaved catchfly or white 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, white flowers and hairy leaves. It grows well in a variety of habitats, including fields, gardens, and waste areas. Silene otites 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.


Spanish Catchfly (Silene otites) is a beautiful wildflower species that is native to Europe and North Africa. This plant is known for its vibrant red, pink, or white flowers that bloom in the summer and autumn months.

The Spanish Catchfly is a low-growing plant, typically reaching a height of only 30 centimeters. The leaves of this plant are long, narrow and green, and they grow alternately along the stem. The flowers are bell-shaped and are produced in large clusters at the end of each stem.

In the wild, Spanish Catchfly can be found growing in a variety of habitats including meadows, grasslands, and rocky slopes. This plant is also known to grow in disturbed areas such as roadsides, fields and abandoned lots.

One of the most interesting things about Spanish Catchfly is its reproductive strategy. This plant is known for its sticky seed capsules that trap insects, including ants, that help to disperse its seeds. This is known as myrmecochory, which is the dispersal of seeds by ants. The sticky seeds attract the ants, which carry them back to their nests, where they feed on the surrounding fleshy tissue. In the process, the ants unknowingly distribute the seeds to new areas, helping the Spanish Catchfly to spread.

In cultivation, Spanish Catchfly is a great choice for those looking to add a pop of color to their gardens. This plant is easy to grow and is often used as a border or ground cover. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. This plant is also drought-tolerant, making it an excellent choice for areas with dry summers.

Spanish Catchfly (Silene otites) is a beautiful and fascinating plant that is well worth considering for any wildflower or garden enthusiast. Its vibrant flowers, low-growing habit, and fascinating reproductive strategy make it a unique and valuable addition to any collection.

In addition to its ornamental value, Spanish Catchfly has been used for various medicinal purposes throughout history. The plant's leaves and stems have been used to treat a variety of ailments such as colds, coughs, and skin irritations. In traditional medicine, decoctions of the plant have been used as a sedative and to promote sweating.

However, it's important to note that Spanish Catchfly should not be used internally without the guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner, as its medicinal properties are not well understood and it may have toxic effects in high doses.

The Spanish Catchfly is also an important food source for various species of wildlife, including butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. These insects are attracted to the plant's flowers, which provide a source of nectar and pollen. Additionally, the leaves of the Spanish Catchfly are a food source for the larvae of some species of butterflies.

In recent years, Spanish Catchfly has become a popular choice for restoration projects, particularly in areas where the plant has been lost due to habitat destruction. It is considered a beneficial species for its ability to help stabilize soil and prevent erosion, as well as its positive impact on local wildlife.

Overall, Spanish Catchfly is a versatile and valuable plant that has much to offer both as an ornamental and as a wildflower species. Whether you're looking to add a pop of color to your garden, support local wildlife, or participate in restoration projects, Spanish Catchfly is an excellent choice.

Additionally, Spanish Catchfly is a hardy plant that is relatively low maintenance. It does not require much fertilizer or watering, making it an ideal choice for those who prefer low-maintenance gardens. The plant is also resistant to pests and diseases, making it an excellent choice for gardeners who are looking for an easy-to-care-for plant.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Spanish Catchfly is considered an invasive species in some areas, particularly in the United States. If you are planting Spanish Catchfly in an area where it is not native, it's important to be mindful of its potential to spread and take steps to prevent it from spreading into natural areas.

In terms of its cultural significance, Spanish Catchfly has been a popular plant in folklore and mythology throughout history. In ancient Greek mythology, the flower was associated with the goddess of the hunt, Artemis. In more recent times, it has been used in wedding bouquets and as a symbol of love and affection.

In conclusion, Spanish Catchfly (Silene otites) is a beautiful and valuable wildflower that has much to offer in terms of ornamental value, medicinal uses, wildlife habitat, and cultural significance. Whether you're a wildflower enthusiast, a gardener, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of nature, Spanish Catchfly is definitely worth considering.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map