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Useful Temperate Plants

Silene latifolia

Poir.

Caryophyllaceae

+ Synonyms

Lychnis × loveae B. Boivin

Lychnis alba Mill.

Lychnis divaricata Rchb.

Lychnis macrocarpa Boiss. & Reut.

Lychnis pratensis Raf.

Lychnis vespertina Sibth.

Melandrium album (Mill.) Garcke

Melandrium boissieri Schischk.

Melandrium dioicum album (Mill.) D. Löve

Melandrium eriocalycinum Boiss.

Melandrium latifolium (Poir.) Maire

Melandrium macrocarpum Willk.

Melandrium marizianum Gand.

Melandrium vespertinum Fr.

Silene alba (Mill.) E.H.L.Krause

Silene macrocarpa (Boiss. & Reut.) E.H.L.Krause

Silene pratensis Godr.

Silene pratensis divaricate (Rchb.) McNeill & C. Prantice

Common Name: White Campion

No Image.

General Information

Silene latifolia is a short-lived perennial plant that sometimes is only annual or biennial. Growing from a thick, almost woody rootstock, the plant produces a few short non-flowering shoots and erect flowering shoots 30 - 100cm tall[
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a soap. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental, but is more likely to be present in a garden as a weed[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Known Hazards

Although no mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, it does contain saponins.
Although poisonous, saponins also have a range of medicinal applications and many saponin-rich plants are used in herbalism (particularly as emetics, expectorants and febrifuges) or as sources of raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry. Saponins are also found in a number of common foods, such as many beans.
Saponins have a quite bitter flavour and are in general poorly absorbed by the human body, so most pass through without harm. They can be removed by carefully leaching in running water. Thorough cooking, and perhaps changing the cooking water once, will also normally remove most of them. However, it is not advisable to eat large quantities of raw foods that contain saponins.
Saponins are much more toxic to many cold-blooded creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish and make them easy to catch[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Botanical References

17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

N. Africa - Morocco to Tunisia; Eurasia - Norway to Portugal, through Russia to Russian Far East, through Turkey , Syria and Caucasia to Iran

Habitat

Hedges, waste places and a weed of cultivated land; at elevations up to 400 metres[
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
].

Properties

Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitPerennial
Height0.60 m
PollinatorsLepidopteraMoths
Self-fertileNo
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

Silene latifolia is a moderately cold-hardy plant, able to tolerate temperatures down to around -20°c when fully dormant[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Species in this genus generally grow well in a sunny position in a well-drained but moisture-retentive fertile soil[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Plants tend to be short-lived and are sometimes only annual[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Hybridizes readily with Silene dioica[
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
].
The flowers produce a mild aroma in the evening, attracting moths for pollination[
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
].
The smut, Ustilago violacea, causes the production of stamens in female flowers, but violet spores of the fungus replace the pollen grains[
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
].
A dioecious species - both male and female forms must be grown if fruit and seed are required.

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal

None known

Other Uses

The root is used as a soap substitute for washing clothes etc[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
]. The soap is obtained by mashing the root and then simmering it in hot water.

Propagation

Seed - sow early spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.
Division in spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer.
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2024-03-03. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Silene+latifolia>

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