Dianthus barbatus Dianthus barbatus Dianthus barbatus

Images: ©Jouko Lehmuskallio

Large Pink

Dianthus superbus

  • Name also: Fringed Pink
  • Family: Pink Family – Caryophyllaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb. Loosely tufted.
  • Height: 25–60 cm (10–25 in.). Stem ascending–erect, upper part branched, glabrous, bright green.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), pink–light purple (occasionally white), approx. 3 cm (1.2 in.) broad; petals 5, narrow-lobed. Calyx fused, tubular, becoming narrower towards top, 5-lobed, with epicalyx, often violet. Stamens usually 10. Pistil of 2 fused carpels, styles 2. Inflorescence with several–many flowers, occasionally solitary. Flowers strongly fragrant.
  • Leaves: Opposite, stalkless, united at base. Blade linearly lanceolate, with entire margins, parallel-veined.
  • Fruit: Greenish, 4-valved capsule.
  • Habitat: Sandy and gravelly river banks, shore meadows, rocky embankments, dry commons, roadsides, banks.
  • Flowering time: July–August.

Large pink is protected southward from the province of Oulu. The serpentine version in Kaavi is critically endangered.

In Ancient Greece the beauty of the flowers inspired their dedication to the goddess Aphrodite: the generic name Dianthus is based on dios anthos, meaning ‘God’s flower’. The flower’s pleasant fragrance seems to be especially strong at night, as that is when it attracts most pollinators.

Large pink arrived in Finland on the shores of Tenojoki and Kemijoki, and to Oulanka from the east as the melting ice cap retreated. It spread to the estuaries of rivers that flow into the Bay of Bothnia, but it doesn’t grow further south. Large pink is originally native to sandy river banks, dry broad-leaved forests and calciferous rocks, but it has also spread in the wild to banks, roadsides and man-made meadows. It has also been deliberately transplanted to yards as an ornamental. In northern Karelia there is also a mutation that thrives on alkaline serpentine rock. It is especially protected by a nature conservation decree.

Large pink is bigger than sand pink (D. arenarius) and is more loosely tufted, broader leaved and has a greater abundance of flowers, which are also larger and usually purplish. Large pink is also slightly reminiscent of ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), although the latter has paler flowers and a shorter calyx.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family
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