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Cardinal Catchfly Back to Plant Page
Silene laciniata ssp. laciniata

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About Cardinal Catchfly (Silene laciniata ssp. laciniata) Cardinal Catchfly (Silene laciniata ssp. laciniata) is a native perennial herb that grows in northern, southern and central California at elevations from 0-3900 feet. Silene laciniata ssp. californica is found primarily in the northern part of the state and the Sierra foothills. Ssp. laciniata is primarily found along the central to southern coast. It forms a thick taproot from which an upright or straggling, branching and slightly sticky stem emerges. Larger leaves are typically held on the lower portion of the stem and are triangular or lance shaped. The flowers, though small, are dramatic; though the common name suggests they are pink, in fact they are typically a deep crimson. Very common in its preferred habitat, often in the partial shade of boulders, taller grasses or larger shrubs. Sometimes only the flowers are visible through surrounding vegetation.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Annual herb, Perennial herb

Max. Height
1.6 - 3.2 ft (0.49 - 1 m)

Max. Width
1.5 ft (0.5 m)



Growth Rate

Summer Deciduous

Dark green, sticky, herbaceous, 1-10 cm long, usually tapering to a sharp point

Flower Color
Red, Pink

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Coastal bluffs, marine terraces, canyons, foothills and mesas of southern California in typical chaparral or sage scrub conditions


Elevation ?
-58' - 11310'

Annual Precip. ?
9.8" - 46.1"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 2.99"

Coldest Month ?
24.6° F - 56.4° F

Hottest Month ?
45.5° F - 80.7° F

Humidity ?
0.47 vpd - 29.25 vpd

Soil Description
Likes sandy soil but is adaptable

Soil Texture
Loamy Sand, Sand, Sandy Clay Loam, Sandy Loam

Soil PH
6.0 - 7.0

Fast, Medium

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 30° F

Sunset Zones ?
7, 14, 15*, 16*, 17*, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24,

Companion Plants
Chamise, Woolly Bluecurls, White Sage, California Buckwheat, California Coffeeberry, Toyon, Lemonade Berry, Coastal Prickly Pear Cactus, Manzanita species, Yucca spp, various native grasses

Wildlife Attracted
Hummingbirds, insects

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

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

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?

No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment.

Nursery Availability
Rarely Available

Other Names
Botanical Names
Silene laciniata ssp. major;Silene laciniata ssp. major

Common Names
Suggests They Are Pink, In Fact They Are Typically A Deep Crimson

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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