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Moss Pink Silene acaulis

Other plants called Moss Pink:

Previously known as:

  • Cucubalus acaulis
  • Xamilenis acaulis
Phonetic Spelling
sy-LEE-nee a-KAW-liss
Description

Moss campion is commonly found in the artic, high mountains, and alpine tundra. The plant is a compact, cushion-like, or mat-forming evergreen perennial that has tiny star-shaped flowers in the summer. It is a member of the Caryophyllaceae family that includes the carnations or pinks.

The plant is native to subarctic and subalpine regions of the northern hemisphere and can be found as far south as Arizona. It is typically found in the rocky crevices of the mountain and is also found scattered throughout the Rocky Mountains of the United States. The cushion shape helps protect the plant from high winds and retains heat and moisture. The plant is tolerant of temperatures as low as -30 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The genus name, Silene, means "catchfly" or "campion." The plants in this genus have sticky hairs that discourage ants and other insects from eating the plant. The common name "campion" is derived from the word "champion." In Europe, the flowers of the Moss campion were used as a head wreath for winners of sporting events. 

Moss campion prefers full sun, low humidity, and cool temperatures. It does best in moist, well-drained, chalk, loamy, or sandy soils with a neutral or alkaline pH. It requires no pruning and is very low maintenance. It is intolerant to drought and winter wetness. The plant also dislikes summer heat and humidity. The plant is propagated by seeds or stem cuttings. 

Mossy campion forms thick compact mats of bright green leaves. The plant measure 2 to 4 inches in height and 8 to 10 inches wide. Numerous tiny pink five-petaled flowers bloom during the summer months. The fruit is a capsule that contains many seeds that are dispersed by the wind. 

Mossy campion is a popular rock garden plant in cool climates. It may be used in rocky crevices, rambling over steppingstones, or spilling over the sides of a container. In North Carolina, our native, creeping phlox, maybe a good alternative for our climate.

Seasons of interest:

Bloom: Summer          Foliage: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter            Fruits: Fall

Quick ID Hints:

  • cushion or mat-forming habit in cool alpine or arctic climates
  • tiny bright green linear or lanceolate evergreen leaves
  • tiny star-shaped, pink or occasionally white, five-petaled, notched at the end of the petal
  • tiny capsule fruit with three chambers, opens apically with six teeth
  • tiny light brown seeds 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: This plant is generally pest and disease-free.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#annuals#perennials#pink flowers#slow growing#seeds#creeping#deer resistant#frost tolerant#cool weather plant#rock garden#wildflower garden#stepping stones#green leaves#summmer flowers#patio planting#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#heat intolerant#humidity intolerant#drought intolerant#compact#container plant#mat forming
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#annuals#perennials#pink flowers#slow growing#seeds#creeping#deer resistant#frost tolerant#cool weather plant#rock garden#wildflower garden#stepping stones#green leaves#summmer flowers#patio planting#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#heat intolerant#humidity intolerant#drought intolerant#compact#container plant#mat forming
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Silene
    Species:
    acaulis
    Family:
    Caryophyllaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    In the past, it was used as a vegetable source in Iceland and the Arctic and Alpine regions.
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Biennial
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Subarctic and Subalpine Northern Hemisphere
    Distribution:
    Native: Albania, Aleutian Islands, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada--Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Northwest Territory, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Yukon, Czechoslovakia, East European Russia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kamchatka, Labrador, Magadan, North European Russia, Norway, Nunavut, Poland, Romania, Sakhalin, Spain, Svalbard, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United States--AK, AZ, CO, ID, ME, MT, NV, NH, NM, NY, OR, UT, WA, and WY, West Siberia, Yugoslavia
    Wildlife Value:
    The plant is pollinated by insects. Deer and sheep may occasionally graze the plant, but it is an uncommon food source.
    Edibility:
    Mossy campion is edible when cooked. It was used as a vegetable by peasants in Iceland and the Arctic and Alpine regions. The Eskimos use the raw root skin as food. The plant contains saponins and should not be ingested in large quantities.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 2 in. - 0 ft. 4 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 8 in. - 0 ft. 10 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Wildflower
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Cascading
    Creeping
    Dense
    Horizontal
    Prostrate
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3b, 3a, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a tiny cylinder-like capsule with three small chambers that opens apically with 6 teeth. Each capsule contains many 1 mm kidney-shaped light brown seeds. When the fruit dries, it splits open and releases the seeds. The seeds are dispersed by the wind.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers may be solitary or form clusters. Each tiny flower is star-shaped with five petals that are notched and have ten stamens. The petals measure 8-12 mm long. Their color is bright pink or rarely white. They bloom in the summer.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are numerous, basal, and overlapping. The leaves are tiny, linear, or lance-shaped, stalkless, bright green that form a moss-like evergreen carpet or mat. The leaves are opposite, linear, and densely crowded with triangular hairs. The leaf measures 4-10 mm long and 0.8 to 1.5 mm wide. The leaves may be hairless or hairy on the lower edges.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    The stems are erect and horizontal at ground level. They branch to shape the plant into a cushion.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Patio
    Landscape Theme:
    Rock Garden
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer