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Night-flowering Catchfly

Silene noctiflora

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Plant Profile

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

White, 5 petals
Pale pink or white flowers, about 2.5cm (1 inch) in size. The flowers are deeply notched. Flowers open at night.
Yellowish-brown, egg-shaped fruits. Fruits measure up to 2cm long. The ripe fruits each have 6 recurved teeth. The seeds are dark brown or black, 1mm in size.
Lance-shaped, hairy leaves, up to 15cm (6 inches) long and 5cm (2 inches) wide. The light green leaves are stalkless and in opposite pairs along the stems. Leaf margins are not toothed.
Other Names:
Clammy Cockle, Night-flowering Silene, Red Campion.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Silene noctiflora, also known as night-flowering 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 noctiflora 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.


Night-flowering Catchfly, also known as Silene noctiflora, is a species of flowering plant that is native to Europe and Asia. This plant is unique because it blooms only at night and its flowers close before dawn.

The Night-flowering Catchfly is an annual plant and it grows to a height of about 60 cm. Its stem is covered in a sticky substance that traps insects, hence the name “Catchfly”. The plant has alternate leaves that are lance-shaped and its flowers have five petals that are white or pale pink.

One of the most interesting features of the Night-flowering Catchfly is that it is pollinated by moths. The strong fragrance of the flowers attracts moths, who transfer the pollen from one flower to another as they feed on the nectar. This adaptation has made the Night-flowering Catchfly one of the few plants that rely on moths for pollination.

In addition to being pollinated by moths, the Night-flowering Catchfly is also a food source for many species of moths and butterflies. Its leaves are a food source for caterpillars, and the plant is an important source of nectar for adult moths and butterflies.

The Night-flowering Catchfly is a relatively hardy plant that can grow in a variety of soils and habitats. It is often found growing in meadows, along roadsides, and in disturbed areas. The plant is drought-tolerant and can grow in areas with low rainfall.

The Night-flowering Catchfly is a unique and fascinating plant that has adapted to a specific ecosystem and plays an important role in the food chain. Its night-blooming flowers and dependence on moths for pollination make it a valuable addition to any garden, especially for those interested in attracting moths and butterflies.

The Night-flowering Catchfly has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. In traditional medicine, an infusion of the plant was used to treat a variety of ailments, including chest congestion, coughing, and digestive problems. Some studies have shown that compounds found in the plant have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and may have potential as a natural remedy for certain health conditions.

In recent years, the Night-flowering Catchfly has become popular as an ornamental plant for gardens and meadows. Its fragrant flowers and attractive appearance make it a popular choice for gardeners looking to add a touch of uniqueness to their landscape. In addition, its night-blooming flowers make it a great choice for night-time garden walks, or for adding a touch of magic to outdoor evening gatherings.

Despite its popularity, the Night-flowering Catchfly is not widely cultivated, and it is considered to be an endangered species in some countries. This is partly due to habitat destruction, as well as the decline of its pollinators, such as moths and butterflies. To help protect this species, gardeners and conservationists can cultivate the Night-flowering Catchfly in their own gardens, or support conservation efforts aimed at preserving its natural habitats.

The Night-flowering Catchfly is not only a valuable species for its ecological and ornamental purposes, but it also has cultural significance. In some cultures, the plant was associated with magic and mystery, and was believed to have supernatural powers. In folklore, the plant was used in love spells and was said to have the power to attract a lover or protect a relationship.

In addition, the Night-flowering Catchfly has inspired artists and writers for centuries. Its night-blooming flowers and attractive appearance have been depicted in paintings, poems, and other forms of art. The plant has also been featured in many famous works of literature, including Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

Despite its cultural and ecological importance, the Night-flowering Catchfly is not widely recognized or understood by the general public. This is partly due to the plant's preference for growing in disturbed or remote areas, as well as its nocturnal blooming habit. To help raise awareness about this species, nature lovers, botanists, and educators can work to educate the public about the Night-flowering Catchfly and its significance.

In conclusion, the Night-flowering Catchfly is a fascinating species that has much to offer the world. Its ecological importance, cultural significance, and ornamental value make it a plant worth preserving and appreciating. By learning about the Night-flowering Catchfly and spreading awareness about its importance, we can help ensure that this unique species remains a part of our world for generations to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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