CPC Plant Profile: Royal Catchfly
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Plant Profile

Royal Catchfly (Silene regia)

Closeup of the red, 5-petaled pinwheel flowers of this species. Photo Credit:
Description
  • Global Rank: G3 - Vulnerable
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Caryophyllaceae
  • State: MO, MS, OH, OK, TN, WI, AL, AR, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY
  • Nature Serve ID: 128777
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 01/01/1985

This species is one of the Midwest's most beautiful and conspicuous prairie wildflowers, presenting brilliant red flowers during much of the summer. This showy perennial produces 5-petaled crimson-red flowers that are approximately 2 inches in diameter, during the months of June-September. These flowers have a sticky calyx that can catch insects, which is how it got the common name of Royal catchfly. Many flowers are produced at once, but not all yield fruit and seed. Fruit that is produced has 20-40 seeds, which have been shown to have a high germination rate. This plant can grow from 24-48 inches in height. It has a long, slender, reclining stem, and 10-20 pairs of downy, lancelike leaves. There are also sticky hairs on the stem of this taxon. The leaves are slightly pointed at their tips. The Royal catchfly is usually multi-stemmed and produces more seedlings when its habitat is burned because seeds need little to no litter layer in order to germinate.

Participating Institutions
Updates
Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Midwestern endemic of tallgrass prairie habitats, now with relatively few, scattered populations coupled with continued destruction of habitat. Apparently most abundant in Missouri; extirpated from Kansas and Tennessee, and considered quite rare in all other states in range. Many remaining population remnants are along roadsides where vulnerable to construction or to changes in management of roadside vegetation.

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

Overgrowth by woody species Casual picking of the flowers Digging by wildflower gardeners Spreading of non-native Smooth Brome (Bromus inermis) Fire suppression Conversion of its habitat to farmland Massive habitat destruction

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

Unknown, but this species appears to do well in restorations.

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

None known.

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

None known.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Silene regia
Authority Sims
Family Caryophyllaceae
CPC Number 4005
ITIS 20109
USDA SIRE2
Common Names royal catchfly
Associated Scientific Names Silene regia | Melandrium illinoense | Melandrium regium
Distribution Found historically in Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Florida.
State Rank
State State Rank
Alabama S2?
Arkansas S2
Florida SNR
Georgia S1
Illinois S1
Indiana S2
Kansas SH
Kentucky S1
Missouri S3
Mississippi S1
Ohio S2
Oklahoma S1
Tennessee SH
Wisconsin SNA
Habitat

Found in open woods, glades, meadows, and calcareous prairies. Found mostly in the sun, in rich, well drained soil. Also likes prairie remnants, cemeteries, by railroads, and powerline right of ways. Found by roadsides and in dry rocky areas in general. Found in soil in open woods, and wood margins. Likes well drained, calcareous, and cherty soils. Can also be found on limestone barrens, and remnant prairies. Likes mesic, dry mesic, and wet mesic prairies. Also is found on dry savannahs and dry woods. Especially found on calcareous or chert substrates.

Ecological Relationships

This species is pollinated by the ruby throated hummingbird, and in fact requires visits by this vibrant bird in order to produce fruit and set seeds.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Birds
Hummingbirds Archilochus colubris Confirmed Pollinator Link

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