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Silene stellata

Previously known as:

  • Cucubalus stellatus
  • Silene scabrella
  • Silene stellata var. scabrella
Phonetic Spelling
sy-LEE-nee stell-AY-tuh
Description

Starry Campion is a native wildflower that is erect, loosely branching, and clumping perennial. It grows about 2 to 3 feet tall and has five-petaled fringed white blooms atop the stems. Its lance-shaped leaves appear in whorls. It is a member of the Caryophyllaceae family that includes carnations and pinks.

Starry Campion is native to the central and eastern parts of the United States. The plant may be found in thickets, woodlands, meadows, prairies, or wooded slopes.

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 species name, stellata, is derived from "starry or star-like."

The Starry Campion grows best in partial shade. The leaves become yellowish-green when exposed to full sun. It prefers dry to moist well-drained sandy or clay soils. Good drainage is essential. The mature plant is shade, dry soils, and drought tolerant. Tall plants may require staking for support. It is propagated by seeds, stem cuttings, or division. Seeds may be planted immediately after collection or may be stored. It is best to divide the mature plant's late fall or early spring. They should be placed about 2 feet apart.

The plant has a deep white taproot. This species is easily identified by its brilliant white frilly petals as well as its lanceolate-shaped leaves that appear in whorls of four. The flowers bloom during the summer for three to 4 weeks. The flowers tend to close slightly in the bright sun. The flowers are replaced by ovoid seed capsules. The plant can reproduce by reseeding itself.

The flowers of the Starry Campion are quite beautiful, and their nectar attracts butterflies and moths. This plant would be best grown in naturalized areas, wildflower gardens, woodland gardens, pollinator gardens, or cottage gardens. 

Seasons of interest:

Bloom:  Summer                    Foliage: Spring and Summer

Quick ID Hints:

  • erect pale green to reddish-green stems
  • upper and lower leaves simple and opposite
  • central leaves occur in whorls of four
  • upper surface of leaf yellowish-green, grayish-green, or medium green, lower surface paler, lanceolate to elliptical
  • panicle of flowers 8 inches long and 3 to 4 inches across
  • each flower is 3/4 inch in diameter, brilliant white tubular blooms with 5 frilly petals and a light green bell-shaped calyx
  • ovoid pale green to tan fruit capsule with purplish-brown kidney-shaped seeds

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

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#drought tolerant#perennials#white flowers#tubular flowers#cottage garden#whorled#border planting#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#clumping#naturalized area#summmer flowers#clay soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#bee friendly#meadows#native#woodland#erect
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#drought tolerant#perennials#white flowers#tubular flowers#cottage garden#whorled#border planting#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#clumping#naturalized area#summmer flowers#clay soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#bee friendly#meadows#native#woodland#erect
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Silene
    Species:
    stellata
    Family:
    Caryophyllaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central and Eastern United States
    Distribution:
    United States: AL, AR, CT, DE, DC, GA, IL IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MN MS, MO, NE, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VT, VA, WV, and WI
    Wildlife Value:
    The plant is pollinated by butterflies, bumblebees, and moths. Deer may chew on the tops of the plants.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 6 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Maintenance:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Green
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is an ovoid seed capsule with 6 teeth along its upper rim. The mature capsule will appear swollen and pale green to tan, and it will split open when pinched. There are many purplish-brown kidney-shaped seeds inside the capsule.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The showy flowers appear as terminal clusters of white tubular blooms atop the tall stems. The panicle of flowers measures up to 8 inches long and 3 to 4 inches wide. The flowers may occur singularly or in groups of 2 to 3 at the tip of the stem and have short pedicels. The blooms are deeply fringed with five white petals and a light green bell-shaped calyx. Each bloom measures 3/4 to 1-inch wide. The calyx and stalk have dense short hairs. Ten thread-like white stamens protrude past the petal tips. The flowers may close slightly in the bright sunlight or the middle of the day. They bloom from June to August for about 3 to 4 weeks. They have no floral scent.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are widely spaced along the stem. The upper and lower leaves are simple and mostly opposite. The center leaves appear in whorls of four. The lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate leaves are 1.5 to 4.5 inches long and 0.5 to 1.75 inches wide. The upper surface of the leaf is yellowish-green, grayish-green, or medium green. The lower surface appears paler. The margins are entire, and the leaf surface is sparsely hairy. The tips of the leaves taper to a point. The leaf node appears swollen and red-tinged.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The stems are sticky, erect, and may be sparsely or densely hairy. They may be branched or sparely branched. They measure 2 to 3 feet tall and are pale to medium green or pale reddish-green. The stems may flop over due to the weight of the flowers.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Moths
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil