Rose Campion and its cousins

Lychnis coronaria

Seeing this gorgeous Lychnis coronaria posted on Facebook by Jane Schofield, prompted me to look into the campion family, about which there is plenty of confusion, because the campions are Lychnis, or Silene: these names are often interchangeable, but not invariably.

Lychnis coronaria 'Alba'

Lychnis coronaria ‘Alba’

Lychnis coronaria (above) is a good starting point, because the RHS declares that it is Rose Campion (it also has the intriguing English name of ‘Bridget-in-her-bravery’ – nobody seems to know where that comes from). The white flowered variety is Lychnis coronaria ‘Alba’ which is indispensable also.

Lychnis dioica (red campion)

Lychnis dioica (red campion)

These are not to be confused with Lychnis dioica (red campion) which I think is more usually called Silene dioica, and has another synonym which is Melandrium rubra (though I’ve never heard anybody use this). There are named varieties of L. dioica, but none that I’ve seen are an imorovement on the species, carefully selected.

Silene fimbriata

Silene fimbriata

The other campion I know well is Silene fimbriata (always called Silene I think), which is a great performer In an untidy way, in very deep shade.

 

Lychnis chalcedonica

Lychnis chalcedonica

There is one more to mention, which is completely different to the others, namely Lychnis chalcedonica, with brilliant vermillion flowers in compact dome heads, which I should like to try. It has English names given to it, of Maltese Cross and Jerusalem Cross. Gerard’s Herball, in 1597: ‘ THere be divers forts of Rofe Campions, fome of the garden, and others of the field: … and firft of the Campion of Conftantinople Lychnis chalcedonica.‘ He says the Germans call it ‘flower of Ierufalem‘. Part of the reason I like Gerard so much is that he is very keen on the ‘ temperature and vertues‘ of his plants, but in the case of L. chalcedonica he just says ‘befides that grace and beautie which it hath in gardens and garlands‘ (coronaria means garlands incidentally) ‘it is for ought we know of no vfe at all in phificke ; for which caufe the vertues thereof are not yet found out.‘ In other words it’s useless!

Lychnis flos-cuculi

Lychnis flos-cuculi

I forgot to mention Lychnis flos-cuculi, that pretty wild flower (Ragged Robin), which like Red Campion  is at home equally in the garden and in the wild.

 

Lychnis coronaria and Geranium 'Rozanne'

Lychnis coronaria and Geranium ‘Rozanne’

Finally, here’s a picture of Jane’s delightful combination of Lychnis coronaria with Geranium ‘Rozanne’

2 thoughts on “Rose Campion and its cousins

  1. Jane Schofield: Lovely post, but it takes me so long to get there, and FB only gives a snippet. I love all the campions, I must admit, but my absolute favourite (which I have grown from seed years ago but also occurs here naturally on the Culm very occasionally) is the white version of ragged robin. The biggest snag with it though is when not in flower it gets easily weeded out of the border as ‘grass’…….. 󾰕

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *