sweet William catchfly

(Silene armeria)

Conservation Status


No image available

  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNA - Not applicable

SNA - Not applicable


not listed


Sweet William catchfly is a 4 to 27 but usually 8 to 16 tall, erect, annual forb that rises from a slender taproot. When young the plant forms a basal rosette of leaves. Later it sends up flowering stems.

The stems are erect and unbranched below the inflorescence. They are hairless and are more or less covered with a whitish, waxy coating (glaucous). They sometimes have sticky areas below the upper nodes.

Basal leaves are broad, lance-shaped to spatula-shaped, ¾ to 2 long, and hairless. They wither before the plants flower. Stem leaves are opposite, lance-shaped to elliptic, to 2 long, and from less than ¼ to 1 wide. They taper gradually to a pointed tip with straight sides along the tip. They are attached to the stem without a leaf stalk and are more or less clasping. They are hairless and more or less glaucous. The margins are untoothed.

The inflorescence is a dense, head-like or branched cluster of flowers. Each cluster is subtended by a pair of long or less lance-shaped bracts.

Flowers are about ½ wide when fully open, and are on a short, upright stalk.

The sepals are tinged purple and fused at the base into a tube (calyx) terminating in 5 short, erect lobes. The calyx tube is ½ to long, and about wide, and constricted at the base with a navel-like indentation. It is club-shaped, gradually widening toward the apex. It has 10 major veins that are raised on the surface (prominent), forming ridges.

The 5 petals are pink, unlobed, horizontally spreading, with a stalk-like narrow base (claw). There are 10 stamens that are slightly longer than the petals and 3, sometimes 4, styles, also longer than the petals.

The fruit is a 3-chambered capsule with 6 or 8 spreading teeth at the top.




4 to 27 but usually 8 to 16


Flower Color


Pink or lavender


Similar Species

  The long, narrow, purple-tinged calyx and dense clusters of pink flowers distinguishes this plant from other Silene species.  

Disturbed sites, especially near human habitation. Partial shade.




June to July




Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28.




Native to Europe and Turkey. Introduced, widely cultivated, and naturalized in North America.





  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Subclass Caryophyllidae  
  Superorder Caryophyllanae  


Caryophyllales (pinks, cactuses, and allies)  


Caryophyllaceae (pink)  
  Subfamily Caryophylloideae  
  Tribe Sileneae  


Silene (catchfly)  

Subordinate Taxa






Atocion armeria


Common Names


sweet William catchfly

sweet-William catchfly

sweet William silene









Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.



The flower cup. May be the group of outer floral leaves (sepals) collectively, or a tube with lobes.



Describing a leaf that wholly or partly surrounds the stem but does not fuse at the base.



A stalk-like narrowed base of some petals and sepals.



Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.

Visitor Photos

Share your photo of this plant.

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.

MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos






Visitor Videos

Share your video of this plant.

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach one or more videos or YouTube links and, if you like, a caption.

Other Videos
  Eastern Pale Clouded Yellow Nectaring モンキチョウ♀@ムシトリナデシコ訪花

Published on Aug 27, 2012

A white-form female of Eastern Pale Clouded Yellow (Colias erate poliographus, family Pieridae) visiting pink flowers of the Sweet William Catchfly (Silene armeria, family Caryophyllaceae) for nectar. Late-June 2012 in Japan.

vid response





Visitor Sightings

Report a sighting of this plant.

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.

MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings




Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © 2022 MinnesotaSeasons.com. All rights reserved.