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Silene nutans - Nottingham Catchfly

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Caryophyllales - Family: Caryophyllaceae

Nottingham Catchfly

Despite its common name, this wildflower is no longer to be found on the walls of Nottingham Castle, which was the origin of the name Nottingham Catchfly.

Description

Nottingham Catchfly has ascending, branched stems up to about 60cm tall that are hairy and, towards the flowering region, glandularly sticky; the sticky protuberances on the upper stems serve to deter small non-flying invertebrates from feeding on the flowers. The flowers of Silene nutans are carried in a one-sided spike. The nodding flowers, which have five deeply bifurcated white or pale pink petals, are 1.5 to 2.5 cm in diameter; they have a distinctive narrow calyx which is green and patterned with ten longitudinal purple stripes.

The petals usually (although there are occasional exceptions) curl up during the daytime and open out at night, at which time they emit a sweet-smelling odour that attracts pollinators; this is a feature shared with many other catchfly species.

Closeup of flowers of Nottingham Catchfly

Distribution

This perennial wildflower is found in scattered locations in England, Wales and Scotland, but it is an uncommon to rare find. Its range includes most of mainland Europe, from Scandinavia right down to the Mediterranean region, as well as parts of Asia. In some parts of the USA, this is an introduced species.

Nottingham Catchfly, southern England

Blooming times

In Britain and Ireland this wildflower usually blooms from late May until the end of July.

Acknowledgements

This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Simon Harding.


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