Thursday, May 21, 2009

100 Species Challenge: Red Campion

Scientific name: Silene dioica
Family: Caryophylloceae
Flowers: May to September

I just love the folk names for British wildflowers. Here are a few selected from a long list of names for red campion: Jack-by-the-Hedge, Mary's Rose, Scalded Apples, Soldiers' Buttons and Fleabites.

It is a pretty little flower, but with dark associations in folklore. It is said that picking the flower will cause your parents to die. If you throw red campion at a scorpion it is supposed to stop the scorpion stinging you. Scorpions? In the UK? That was new to me! I googled, and apparently there are a few colonies in the south east, established by European scorpions unwittingly shipped in from the Mediterranean. The most useful part of the plant seems to be the root, which can be used to make a soap substitute for laundry.

100 Species Challenge Number 20
List of plants identified to date

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