Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

The flowers of Starry Campion are quite beautiful. It should be grown more often in flower gardens. This species is easy to identity because of its deeply fringed petals and whorled leaves. Other white-flowered Silene spp. (campions) lack deeply fringed petals and their leaves always occur in opposite pairs. While the flowers of Starry Campion are perfect (bisexual), the flowers of some campions are dioecious (individual plants have either all male flowers or all female flowers, but not both). An example of a dioecious species in this genus is the introduced Silene pratensis (Evening Campion).
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Description

This herbaceous perennial plant is 1–2½' tall and usually erect. It is unbranched or branched sparingly. The terete central stem and any lateral stems are mostly pale green to pale reddish green, hairless to densely pubescent, and somewhat swollen at the bases of leaves, where it is sometimes reddish purple. The lowermost and uppermost leaves are usually opposite, while the middle leaves occur in whorls of 4. They are up to 4" long and 1½" across, elliptic or lanceolate in shape, smooth along the margins, and sessile. The upper surface of each leaf is yellowish green, greyish green, or medium green, and hairless, while the lower leaf surface is more pale and hairless to finely pubescent. The central stem terminates in a panicle of flowers up to 8" long and about 3-4" across. On robust plants, 1-2 additional panicles may be produced from upper lateral stems. Pairs of small leafy bracts occur wherever a panicle branches. The erect central stalk, ascending branches, and clustered pedicels of the panicle are pale to medium green, terete, and hairless to finely pubescent. The flowers occur individually or in groups of 2-3 at the tips of long lateral branches on short pedicels. These pedicels are less than ¼" long. Each flower is about ¾" across, consisting of 5 white fringed petals, a light green calyx that is bell-shaped (campanulate) with 5 broad teeth along its upper rim, a pistil with 3 slender white styles, and 10 stamens with slender white filaments. Each fringed petal has 8-12 linear lobes along its broad outer edge, while at the base it becomes quite narrow. The outer surface of each calyx is light green and hairless to finely pubescent; it often has faint longitudinal veins that are a darker shade of green. The blooming period occurs during mid- to late summer, lasting about 3-4 weeks. There is no noticeable floral scent. The flowers remain open during the evening, night, and early morning. In the presence of bright sunlight, they have a tendency to close-up during the middle of the day. Each flower is replaced by an ovoid seed capsule with 6 teeth along its upper rim; each capsule contains several seeds. The flattened seeds are reniform or reniform-orbicular with a fine pebbly surface. The root system consists of a deep white taproot. An older plant may tiller from its base, sending up multiple stems from the same taproot. Starry Campion reproduces by reseeding itself. Cultivation
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Starry Campion is widely distributed in Illinois, where it occurs occasionally in most counties (see Distribution Map). There are two varieties of Starry Campion that can be found throughout the state, Silene stellata stellata and Silene stellata scabrella. The typical variety of this species is hairless (or nearly so), while var. scabrella is quite pubescent, as indicated above. Habitats include upland rocky woodlands, wooded slopes, savannas, shaded banks of rivers, meadows near wooded areas, and cemetery prairies. This conservative species is usually found in higher quality natural areas. Fire and other kinds of disturbance are beneficial if they reduce dense shade from Acer saccharum (Sugar Maple) and invasive shrubs. Faunal Associations
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Virtually every state in eastern half of U.S.

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Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., D.C., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Md., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Nebr., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Plants perennial; taproot thick; caudex branched. Stems several, simple proximal to inflorescence, 30-80 cm, puberulent, becoming subglabrous near base. Leaves withering proximally, in whorls of 4, ± sessile to short-petiolate, largest in mid-stem region; blade lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, 3-10 cm × 4-40 mm, apex acuminate, puberulent on both surfaces, sparsely so adaxially. Inflorescences paniculate, open, bracteate, bracteolate, branches elongate, puberulent; bracts and bracteoles linear-lanceolate, 2-15 mm. Pedicels straight, often with 1 or 2 pairs of bracteoles, slender, 1/ 2-3 times calyx, glabrous or scabrous-puberulous. Flowers: calyx obscurely 10-veined, broadly campanulate, becoming obtriangular in fruit, 7-11 × 6-10 mm, herbaceous, margins dentate, very narrow, membranous, sparsely puberulent, lobes broadly triangular, 2-3 mm; corolla white, ca. 2 times longer than calyx, limb obtriangular, narrowed into claw, divided ca. 1/ 2 its length into 4-12 lobes, appendages absent; stamens equaling petals; styles 3, longer than petals. Capsules globose, opening by 3 broadly triangular teeth; carpophore 2-3 mm. Seeds dark brown, reniform, ca. 1 mm, papillate. 2n = (34), 48.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Cucubalus stellatus Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 414. 1753; Silene scabrella (Nieuwland) G. N. Jones; S. stellata var. scabrella (Nieuwland) E. J. Palmer & Steyermark
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Starry Campion is widely distributed in Illinois, where it occurs occasionally in most counties (see Distribution Map). There are two varieties of Starry Campion that can be found throughout the state, Silene stellata stellata and Silene stellata scabrella. The typical variety of this species is hairless (or nearly so), while var. scabrella is quite pubescent, as indicated above. Habitats include upland rocky woodlands, wooded slopes, savannas, shaded banks of rivers, meadows near wooded areas, and cemetery prairies. This conservative species is usually found in higher quality natural areas. Fire and other kinds of disturbance are beneficial if they reduce dense shade from Acer saccharum (Sugar Maple) and invasive shrubs. Faunal Associations
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Comments: Rich woods.

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Rich deciduous woods, river flats, tall-grass prairies; 0-1300m.
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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Starry Campion in Illinois

Silene stellaria (Starry Campion)
(Insects suck nectar; moths probably visit the flowers of this plant, but Robertson didn't observe this)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Bombini): Bombus pensylvanica

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering summer.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Silene stellata

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Silene stellata

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Wikipedia

Silene stellata

Silene stellata (known by the common names Starry Campion and Widow's Frill'), is a perennial summer flowering forb with white flowers, which is native to the Eastern United States.[1] It grows in habitats such as forests,[2] river flats, and tall grass prairies.[3]

Silene stellata habit.jpg

References[edit]


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Notes

Comments

Silene stellata is a very distinct species with its broadly lanceolate leaves in groups of four at each node, and its brilliant white, multilobed petals. Two varieties are recognized by some workers: var. stellata, with glabrous pedicels; and var. scabrella, with scabrous pedicels. The former tends to have longer, more slender pedicels and be more common towards the northeast, whereas the latter tends to be more western. The correlation of characters and distribution is poor, however, and intermediate plants are often encountered.  

Silene stellata was collected near the Grand River, Cambridge, Ontario, in 1941, but was probably introduced there and has not been seen since.

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