Bladder campion – Silene latifolia (invasive)

Alaska Wildflowers | White

white flowers and large calyx tubes of the bladder campion (silene latifolia)

bladder campion

Silene latifolia

Common Names

bladder campion
flower of the dead
grave flower
white campion
white cockle


Silene pratensis (Raf.) Gren. & Godr.
Lychnis X loveae B. Boivin
Lychnis alba Mill.
Lychnis vespertina Sibth.
Melandrium album (Mill.) Garcke
Silene alba (Mill.) E.H.L. Krause
Silene latifolia ssp. alba (Mill.) Greuter & Burdet



Genus: Silene
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Order: Caryophyllales

Duration – Growth Habit

Annual, biennial, or short-lived perennial – herb

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Identification and Information

Silene latifolia is an annual, biennial, or short-lived perennial herb that grows from a woody taproot and branched stem-base. It has erect stems, sometimes decumbent at the base (lying down at the base but rising upwards). The stems are multi-branched and 30-100 cm tall. The stems are covered in fine white hairs, stiff at the base, becoming glandular distally near the inflorescence. The basal leaves are 2-10 cm long and 2 mm wide, lanceolate to oblanceolate, and hirsute on both the upper and lower surface, and typically wither by flowering time. Cauline leaves are sessile (attached directly to the plant, no petiole), opposite, and reduced into the inflorescence. Stem leaves are lanceolate to elliptic.

Bladder campion features an inflorescence of several to many flowers in open, branching clusters, with fewer flowers on female plants. Each flower, fragrant and typically 25–35 mm in diameter, is either male or female. Male flowers are closely attached to the stem or have short stalks, while female flowers have longer stalks, up to 5 cm. The calyx, tubular and prominently veined, is hairy and sticky, varying in size from 10 to 24 mm long. It is 10-veined in male flowers and 20-veined in female flowers. The white petals, about twice the length of the calyx, are broadly obovate and can be unlobed or two-lobed. Stamens and stigmas are roughly the same length as the calyx. The ovate capsules match the calyx in length and open with spreading, bifid teeth. Seeds are dark gray-brown, plump, and about 1.5 mm in diameter, with a rough texture.


For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.

Silene latifolia was traditionally used by the Ojibwa tribe as a medicinal plant. An infusion made from the root was used as a cathartic, serving as a physic to stimulate bowel movements. This use is documented in Huron H. Smith’s 1932 ethnobotanical study of the Ojibwe Indians. I found no other traditional or modern uses for the plant.

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Distribution and Habitat

Silene latifolia is native to much of Europe, western Asia, and Northern Africa. It is an exotic (introduced) species in North America, Greenland, South America, Australia, and New Zealand. It is widespread across North America, including most of the USA, southern Canada, the Yukon, and Alaska.

It is commonly found in mesic to dry environments, including roadsides, fields, and waste places. Its habitat ranges across lowland, steppe, and montane zones. Originally introduced from Europe, it thrives at elevations ranging from sea level to 2800 meters, flowering from summer to fall.


RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae (plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants)
   SubkingdomViridiplantae (green plants)
      InfrakingdomStreptophyta (land plants)
            DivisionTracheophyta (vascular plants, tracheophytes)
               SubdivisionSpermatophytina (spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames)
                           FamilyCaryophyllaceae (pinks, cariophyllacées)
                              GenusSilene L. (silènes, campion, catchfly)
                                 SpeciesSilene latifolia (bladder campion)

References and Further Reading



Classification and Taxonomy

ITIS (n.d.). Silene latifolia. Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from

USDA (n.d.). Silene latifolia. United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from

Canadensys (n.d.). Silene latifolia. Database of Vascular Plants of Canada (VASCAN). Retrieved November 30, 2023, from


Native American Ethnobotany Database (n.d.). Silene latifolia. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from

Map and Distribution

GBIF (n.d.). Silene latifolia. GBIF. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from

NatureServe (n.d.). Silene latifolia. NatureServe Explorer. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from

Description and Information

Flora of North America Editorial Committee (n.d.). Silene latifolia. Flora of North America. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from

E-Flora BC (n.d.). Silene latifolia. Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from

CABI (n.d.). Silene latifolia. Invasive Species Compendium. CABI Digital Library. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from

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