Red Campion (Silene dioica) is also known as Red Catchfly in the USA. It is a member of the Pink family (Caryophyllaceae). This pretty perennial plant has deep pink flowers with notched petals on a hairy stem up to 1m tall. In the wild it favours lowland soils and shady areas and is a common sight along roadside verges. The best time to see the plant in flower is late spring, when the bluebells begin to fade, and into the summer months.
The 20mm wide flowers open during the day and are very attractive to pollinating invertebrates with a long proboscis (or tongue)!
When sowing Red Campion in a wildflower seed mix, farmers need to keep the seed rate low as in favourable conditions it can take over a wildflower area as happened spectacularly at the former Fair to Nature office! It looked great though, and it was buzzing with insect life, as well as being a talking point for visitors!
Did you know that Silene, in Red Campion’s scientific name, comes from the Greek God Silenus? Silenus was often depicted as a drunkard and got his name from the Greek word for saliva – ‘sialon’ – as he was often covered in a sticky foam. Female Red Campion flowers produce a sticky foam to capture pollen from visiting insects.