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Cardinal Catchfly
Silene laciniata
About Cardinal Catchfly (Silene laciniata) Nurseries Show All Photos Silene laciniata is a herbaceous flowering plant in the same family as carnations (Caryophyllaceae) that is commonly called Indian-pink, Mexican campion, or Mexican-pink. Many subspecies have been described in the past, and some of these names may still be in use. Presently, there are two recognized subspecies in California. Ssp. laciniata is found in the southern coastal part of the state from San Luis Obispo County to San Diego County and throughout much of the Baja peninsula. Ssp. californica is more often found in the central and northern parts of the state in hilly or mountainous areas including the Transverse Range, the Coast Ranges and the foothills of the Sierras. For gardening purposes, check with your nursery for the proper plants for your area.

Silenes develop a deep taproot that helps them get through a dry summer. They may go summer dormant or may stay green depending on conditions of shade, heat and moisture. The plant is valued for its bright red starburst flowers which are small but eye-catching. Silene often grows vine-like through adjacent plants to display its flowers in unexpected locations. Plant it where the small flowers will be most visible. It deserves to be used more often. The common name Catch-fly refers to the sticky hairy glands on the stems and leaves which sometimes trap tiny insects. It is not clear whether this contributes any nutrients to the plant.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Annual herb, Perennial herb

Max. Height
2.3 ft (0.7 m)

Max. Width
3 ft (0.9 m)

Growth Rate

Summer Semi-Deciduous

Flower Color

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Rocky to sandy areas from the coast to inland, most often in the understory of larger shrubs

Part Shade

Elevation ?
-58' - 11310'

Annual Precip. ?
9.8" - 127.1"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 3.60"

Coldest Month ?
24.6° F - 56.4° F

Hottest Month ?
45.5° F - 80.7° F

Humidity ?
0.03 vpd - 29.25 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers good drainage

Soil PH
5.4 - 7.5

Fast, Medium

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 10° F

Companion Plants
Works well in a woodland or rock garden with other low growing plants in part shade, such as Meadow Rue (Thalicturm species), Yerba Buena (Clinopodium douglasii), Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa), Monkeyflower (Mimulus cardinalis or guttatus). Can be planted under larger shrubs and allowed to grow up through them.

Wildlife Attracted
Hummingbirds and butterflies and very attracted to the flowers.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Seldom Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Propagation ?
Seeds, cuttings, root cuttings.  For propagating by seed: No treatment.

Common uses
Deer Resistant, Hummingbird Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Indian-pink, Mexican Campion, Mexican Catchfly, Mexican-pink

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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