Starry Campion (Catchfly)

Photo of a starry campion flower
Scientific Name
Silene stellata
Caryophyllaceae (pinks, carnations)

A perennial with several stiff stems having short, soft hairs. Flowers in a loose panicle, subtended by a pair of small, leaflike bracts, with a cup-shaped calyx from which 5 white, finely fringed petals protrude. Stamens are long and slender. Blooms June–September. Leaves mostly in whorls of 4, lanceolate to oval-lanceolate, sessile, opposite, to 3 inches long.


Height: usually 2½ feet.

Where To Find
image of Starry Campion Catchfly distribution map


Occurs on dry, wooded uplands and slopes, bottomland forests, savannas, bottomland prairies, banks of streams and rivers, margins of ponds and lakes; also fencerows, railroads, and roadsides.

Native Americans made a poultice from the roots for treating sores. With its unusual petals and interesting whorled leaves, this native wildflower should be considered for the home garden. It is in the same family as carnations and pinks.

Moths are the major pollinators and are attracted by the flowers’ nectar. The flowers open fully at nighttime and usually close at midday. Not many mammals browse the foliage due to bad-tasting, somewhat toxic chemicals in the plant’s tissues.

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About Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants in Missouri
A very simple way of thinking about the green world is to divide the vascular plants into two groups: woody and nonwoody (or herbaceous). But this is an artificial division; many plant families include some species that are woody and some that are not. The diversity of nonwoody vascular plants is staggering! Think of all the ferns, grasses, sedges, lilies, peas, sunflowers, nightshades, milkweeds, mustards, mints, and mallows — weeds and wildflowers — and many more!