Night-flowering Catchfly - Silene noctiflora
This plant has a glandular stem up to about 75 or 80 cm in maximum height which is sticky in texture. The hairy, widely lance-shaped leaves grow in opposite pairs and are up to 14 cm long and 5 cm wide, the largest ones located low on the stem. The flowers are nocturnal, and occur in an open cyme of up to fifteen blooms, each borne on an erect pedicel. The flower is encapsulated in a hairy calyx of fused sepals lined with a netlike pattern of veining. The five petals are whitish to pink and each has two lobes at the tip. They measure up to 2.5 cm wide when fully open. The fruit is a yellowish-brown capsule with six chambers which splits open to release the seeds.
some other rare Silene are similar
See key in Stace. The upper part of the flower-head is sticky, and calyx-teeth have broad, papery ('scarious') margins
Photos of the plant in its habitat, with detail of calyx
Arable land on calcareous soils.
June to August.
Annual. As night falls the flowers of the night-flowering catchfly open and release a strong fragrance which attracts night-flying moths which feed on the copious nectar and pollinate the plant.
Found mainly in central and southern England and even here it is decreasing.
Uncommon and local in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 4 of the 617 tetrads.
In the current checklist (Jeeves, 2011) it is listed as Alien (archaeophyte); arable land on the Oolitic limestone, occasional.
It is on the Rare Plant Register
Leicestershire & Rutland Map
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