FIRE PINK VIRGINIA CATCHFLY
(Silene Virginica) Pink family
Flowers - Scarlet or crimson, 1 1/2 in. broad or less, a few on
slender pedicels from the upper leaf-axils. Calyx sticky,
tubular, bell-shaped, 5-cleft, enlarged in fruit; corolla of 5
wide-spread, narrow, notched petals, sometimes deeply 2-cleft; 10
3 styles. Stem: 1 to 2 ft. high; erect, slender, sticky.
Leaves: Thin, spatulate, 3 to 5 in. long; or upper ones oblong to
Preferred Habitat - Dry, open woodland.
Flowering Season - May-September.
Distribution - Southern New Jersey to Minnesota, south to Georgia
The rich, glowing scarlet of these pinks that fleck the Southern
woodland as with fire, will light up our Northern rock gardens
too, if we but sow the seed under glass in earliest spring, and
set out the young plants in well-drained, open ground in May.
Division of old perennial roots causes the plants to sulk;
dampness destroys them.
To the brilliant blossoms butterflies chiefly come to sip (see
wild pink), and an occasional hummingbird, fascinated by the
color that seems ever irresistible to him, hovers above them on
whirring wings. Hapless ants, starting to crawl up the stem,
become more and more discouraged by its stickiness, and if they
persevere in their attempts to steal from the butterfly's
legitimate preserves, death overtakes their erring feet as
speedily as if they ventured on sticky fly paper. How humane is
the way to protect flowers from crawling thieves that has been
adopted by the high-bush cranberry and the partridge pea (q.v.),
among other plants! These provide a free lunch of sweets in the
glands of their leaves to satisfy pilferers, which then seek no
farther, leaving the flowers to winged insects that are at once
despoilers and benefactors.
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