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White Sticky Catchfly

Silene viscosa

  • Family: Pink Family – Caryophyllaceae
  • Growing form: Annual or once-flowering short-lived perennial herb.
  • Height: 30–60 cm (12–25 in.). Stem densely glandular-haired, sticky.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic)–slightly zygomorphic, white–yellowish, approx. 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in.) wide; petals 5, deeply 2-lobed. Corona (an additional small corolla) not present. Calyx fused, quite narrow, 5-lobed, 10-veined, densely glandular-haired. Stamens 10. Gynoecium syncarpous, with 5 styles. Inflorescence a long, cylindrical, abundantly flowered, whorled raceme.
  • Leaves: Leaves opposite, stalkless, abundant. Blade narrowly lanceolate, with entire margin, wavy–wrinkled.
  • Fruit: Urn-shaped, 10–13 mm (0.4–0.52 in.) long capsule.
  • Habitat: Crevices on bird rocks, long furrows (or grooves) on rocky seashores caused by slowly moving ice during the Ice Age, beside gravelly shores, boat harbours, sometimes meadows and roadsides.
  • Flowering time: July–August.

White sticky catchfly forms a ground-hugging leaf rosette in late summer, which grows a thick-stemmed, often 50 cm (20 in.) high inflorescence shoot the next summer or even after a couple of years. The quite long, candle-like inflorescence’s yellowish white flowers are crammed against each other, and white sticky catchfly is one of the most beautiful plants on the outer archipelago. The festive air of this summer plant becomes admittedly shabby when the flowers wither and the gooey stems collect more debris and all kinds of small insects. The job of the sticky hairs is probably to protect the stem from predators and pirates. White sticky catchfly grows mainly in Finland on narrow meadow-strips located on cliffs and fissures in rocks on small rocky islands, in which the plant almost always stands out above other vegetation – no matter what it is.

White sticky catchfly’s kingdom is found in the steppes of Eastern Europe and western Asia. Stands on the outer archipelago of the Baltic Sea are quite distinct from its main habitat. The conditions are however similar from the point of view of the plant: scant soil with a rocky base heats up quickly, rainfall is light, and a relatively large part of the growing season is quite dry. White sticky catchfly has been able to spread viable seeds from one shore to another. On the other hand it is questionable if the species is really native to the north at all, or if it has arrived by sea.

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

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