17. Silene L. (campion, catchfly)
(Oxelman et al.
2001; Morton 2005c)
biennial, or perennial, sometimes dioecious (in Missouri, only S. dioica
and S. latifolia). Stems erect to spreading, sometimes reclining,
branched or unbranched, glabrous or sparsely to densely pubescent with
nonglandular hairs and/or stalked glands, sometimes glaucous. Leaves opposite
or whorled (in S. stellata), fused basally into a sheath or sometimes
clasping the stem, petiolate (basal leaves) or sessile (most stem leaves),
usually lacking axillary clusters of leaves (these occasionally present at few
to several nodes in some species). Stipules absent. Leaf blades linear to
lanceolate, elliptic, obovate, or spatulate, not succulent (except in S.
csereii), tapered to rounded or cordate at the base, angled or tapered to a
bluntly or sharply pointed tip, occasionally tapered abruptly to a minute,
sharp point. Flowers in terminal, open panicles or clusters, occasionally
solitary and terminal, the stalks erect or ascending at flowering and fruiting
or sometimes nearly absent, the bracts paired and resembling small leaves, with
herbaceous and green or less commonly thin and white margins. Epicalyx absent.
Flowers perfect or all staminate or pistillate (in S. dioica and S.
latifolia). Sepals 5, fused most of their length into a tube, this
(8–)10–30-nerved, these green or sometimes whitish, reddish, or
greenish purple, sometimes inflated and/or papery, variously herbaceous and
green or membranous to papery and translucent or white to purplish-tinged
between the nerves, the lobes linear to lanceolate, oblong, or broadly
triangular, much shorter than the tube, angled or tapered to a bluntly or
sharply pointed tip, not appearing hooded or awned, the margins white or
purplish-tinged. Petals 5 or rarely absent, when present oblanceolate to
narrowly obovate or spatulate, tapered to a stalklike base, rounded to more or
less truncate at the tip, sometimes notched or 2(4–12)-lobed, otherwise
irregularly toothed or rarely entire, white, creamy white, pink, purplish pink,
or red, sometimes with a pair of small appendages on the upper surface at the
base of the expanded portion. Stamens 10 (absent in pistillate flowers), the
filaments distinct or fused into a short tube basally. Staminodes absent
(rarely 1–10 and linear to hairlike in pistillate flowers). Pistil with
1 locule or appearing 3–5-locular toward the base, the ovary sessile or
appearing stalked (small and nonfunctional in staminate flowers). Styles 3(4)
or 5 (absent in staminate flowers), when present distinct, each with a
stigmatic area along the inner side. Fruits capsules, opening by 3(4) or 5
valves (sometimes each split at the tip) or by 6(8) or 10 spreading or
outward-curled teeth. Seeds 15–100(–500 or more), kidney-shaped
to nearly globose, the surface usually tuberculate or with small papillae,
reddish brown to gray, dark brown, or black, lacking wings or appendages. About
650 (or more) species, North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa,
introduced nearly worldwide.
circumscription of Silene follows that of Oxelman et al. (2001), who
defined the tribe Sileneae as comprising eight genera. Four of these are
represented in Missouri: Agrostemma, Atocion, Lychnis, and Silene.
Most of the nonnative species encountered in Missouri originally were brought
into the United States as garden ornamentals or as contaminants in other seeds.
A number of species are still cultivated in gardens today.